Shalom. I am just off a plane from a weekend of teaching at Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, MI. No snow! The three days of sessions, as usual, revolved around issues that people are dealing with in our own aging; personal and familial. The spiritual nuances were always present and each session revolved around texts. What now has become usual was in evidence this weekend. A wide spread of people (50s through 90s), eager to engage in how Jewish texts and tradition spoke to them on a variety of topics. This aging revolution is here and flourishing.
Recent articles in the Washington Post and New York Times added to what we alreasdy know. The country is getting older, our Jewish community is aging faster than general population and the ratio of workers to retirees is shrinking. Add to this the very real fact that one of the fastest growth sectors in the elder population are centenarians, up by 44% since 2000. Longevity is all around us and , as one expert was quoted: “Baby boomers, a large bulge in the population, have started to enter retirement and will soon be bumping the numbers of the elderly to record levels.” We already know the country is not prepared for this (and notice the lack of discussion on this in the presidential race) and so we are rapidly becoming a very different country.
The spiritual questions and concerns will continue to be raised. Our own search for meaning, given the gifts of time, health and economic security, will take on heightened importance. To that end I want to share with you a small meditation that one of the participants in this past weekend’s sessions shared with me. He found it in a Buddhist magazine, “Shambala Sun” from 2000. It is called “The Second Half of Our Life”. I share it with you as it spoke to me and I think it will to you. Enjoy:
In the second half of our life we yearn for wholeness.
We yearn to remember the parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, to nourish those we have starved,
to express those we have silenced, and to bring into the light those we have cast into shadows.
We yearn for the parts of ourselves that have been in the dark to find sunlight,
and those that sunburned to find shade.
We yearn for the parts that have been silent to speak.
and those that were noisy to be still.
We yearn for the parts that have been alone to find companionship,
and those that have been overcrowded to find solitude.
We yearn to live our unlived lives.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.