A note from Rabbi Address: It is a pleasure to welcome Carl Viniar to jewishsacredaging.com. Carl has recently been ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor and has, as part of his Ordination project, developed a comprehensive manual for clergy who are engaged in pre-marital counseling with older adults. We know that many of the issues and concerns that face second or third marriages are different from those younger people who are getting married for the first time.
We are providing links to his manual as well as to a one-page “Checklist for Clergy”.
Viniar – Premarital Counseling for Older Adults (PDF document)
Viniar – One-Page Checklist (PDF Document)
We welcome Carl and look forward to his future contributions. His contact information is at the end of his column.
I was in a group meditation this morning. After listening to a reading, we sat in silence for 15 minutes. wow, it felt liked it dragged on forever. It took so long to get to the final chime.
I started studying in the Aleph Ordination Program in July, 2016. Five and a half years ago. What a long time it took to finish that program. But I was finally ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor on January 9.
The last two years we have lived during a pandemic. These feel like two of the longest years I have spent. How much longer can we all deal with that?
Seventy. I turned 70 on my last birthday. I recalled how I had said we should never trust anyone over thirty. Seventy years used to sound like such a long time.
Clearly I have been alive longer than I will be alive. I guess I have seen more than I will see. But I still have got a lot of livin’ to do. Be prepared, my writings will always be peppered with quotes from songs (two already, including the title).
So this is about time and living. We have aged. And we have acquired the wisdom of the aged. How do we share that wisdom, with younger generations whose learning habits are unrecognizable to us, and people of our generation who may have missed some of the things we picked up along the way?
How do we share with people the sacredness of transition, perhaps from working to retirement, perhaps from one career to another, perhaps from one type of residence to another.
I’m not sure I know, but I am willing to try, with you, to figure it out. So I have taken on writing this column, at least monthly. And this is the introduction.
I have gone through lots of transitions. I was divorced. I never expected to do that. My parents were married just shy of 70 years. That’s what I expected.
I have been married this time for 34 years. We have raised three children, two with what are now called special needs. When I was growing up we were called problem children (I was one. If I had been called special needs I wonder what avenues would have been closed off. A good topic for another column).
I went to law school. I never wanted to be a lawyer. I practiced law for 45 years, finally letting my license lapse last year, although I was not really working at it for the last 5 years or so.
I became a divorce mediator. One of the pioneers in the profession. I was the first one in the area who advertised my mediation practice with a block ad in the Yellow Pages. You remember yellow pages.
I mediated with about a thousand couples, out of a commitment that their children would thrive after their divorce. It was a transformative process, and usually successful. I am really proud of that.
And now, after 45 years of peoples divorces, of the trauma and transition of that event, I will be working with people dealing with all kinds of transitions. The Aleph website says that a Rabbinic Pastor is one who is drawn to spiritual service primarily through pastoral care, ritual craft, and holy accompaniment through life changes. Yup, that’s me.
Who knows how much time each of us has left? And who can tell me why we are still here? There’s an old joke about elderly Mitzi Feinberg, who made the trek to India to see a world famous guru. Thousands of people came to see the guru, year after year, to get the answers to the meaning of life. Mrs Feinberg gets to the entrance, and is finally allowed in, but is warned she can only say three words to the guru. Reluctantly agreeing, she looks at him and says, “Sheldon come home!”
So I no longer even look to get all the answers. One of my first classes was on the Book of Job. What I got out of that class is that God’s answer is that life is a mystery, and we have to be OK with that. And that God is a mystery, and we have to be OK with that too.
So let’s go on this journey together. Explore what’s next, explore what gets up us every morning. Sometimes we may explore what has us want to stay in bed, and pull the covers over our heads. Life is like that. It’s a long and winding road. Let’s see where it leads.
CARL VINIAR has been a lawyer, mediator, teacher, professor, seminar leader, trainer, service leader, pastoral counselor, son, father, sibling and friend. Now he is now an author, having completed A Guide To Premarital Counseling For Clergy Working With People Remarrying or Marrying Later In Life, which has been posted here on Jewish Sacred Aging.
He can be reached for inquiries about this manual and other related topics at RebCarl2022@gmail.com.