I’m embarrassed. It has been months since I have written anything for this blog and I have an excuse but not a good one. I wouldn’t blame you if you have given up on me and unsubscribed from rabbiunplugged.wordpress.com (Don’t do that – just saying). But I’m back – at least I have all these good intentions to be back. It’s easy to let yourself get off track and to make up all kind of reasons why you are not doing what you should or could. Not that this blog is a requirement for graduation or even my self-esteem. I have been richly validated during this almost month long celebration of the 50th year since my Ordination as a Rabbi. And I loved every minute.
The picture of the 16 of us in our graduation gowns and hoods (the kind that go around your neck not over your head) capture us in time. We were all men; women Rabbis were to come five years later. And we were all young at least I think we look that way. I am pretty sure we were all first career Rabbis, most of us destined for what was then a typical career path in a congregation.
But life has a will of its own. Another way of saying that is to insert the word God in that sentence. Pathways open up before us and God calls us to choose which trail to take. I don’t mean that literally. But every turn and fork in the road is a choice and that includes even the unconscious decision to let inertia be the wind at your back. The challenge is to find the sacred and the holy, the meaningful and satisfying in the details and demands of each day.
And challenge is a good word here. There were stretches of time when routine took over and I just plodded away. Luckily, someone, something woke me to the moment and said: God is in this place – look at the bush, burning unconsumed. Notice it. (Yes, I have amalgamated stories and images – hey – 50 years – you get some license.)
I have tried to live with the words of Rabbi Alvin Fine’s poem as my prayer and mantra. “Birth is a beginning and death a destination but life is a journey a going, a growing made stage by stage…. victory lies not in some high place along the way, but in having made the journey (into) a sacred pilgrimage.” We choose what is high and what is low. We choose how to extrapolate the holy from the profane. We choose how to see/reflect/perceive the multitude of experiences life hands us.
Some (too many) in the picture are no longer physically with us. They are gone to what the ancient Rabbis often called the Academy on High. I miss them and don’t understand the why. But that too is a life lesson, one of the hardest to internalize. We don’t get to know it all – no matter how many degrees and accomplishment to our credit. There is a mystery at the heart of birth and death. And so I hold onto the unknown by saying Baruch – blessed. Blessed are the years; blessed are the paths; blessed are the people; blessed are the moments when I am aware of the “You” out there – patiently waiting to be embraced.