Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Each year as time changes numbers and seasons begin the cycle of renewal, the TV stations show an “oldie but goodie” called It’s a Great Life. And each year, I watch and feel a different sensation and understand it a little differently. I sit and know the next part and the next part, but still I leave feeling as though I never saw it before.
It is a timeless story of greed and goodness combined to emphasize that each supports the other, each dependent on the other. Goodness comes from adversity. Goodness also comes from watching the misery that envelops people during various episodes in their lives.
This year, watching again, there were no exceptions. Kindness and charity won the day. Gloom and doom were put on the “back burner” of life’s journey. It may rear its ugly head again, but we can and should be a little stronger with the next encounter, because we understand a little better.
No person is alone if he or she has friends. I am not writing about acquaintances, but honest-to-goodness friends who will nurture and offer comfort and support when needed. Friends who will be there when there is joy and happiness but, more importantly, when comfort and solace are needed.
There are those of us who cannot endure the pain: The pain of sickness, and even death, the pain of loneliness. We tend to concentrate on these more as time goes on. There are those of us who look at life as an adventure. Looking for the next mountain to climb. Looking for the rainbow’s end. Looking at all the greatness we are capable of.
Friends share all this and more. Sometimes friends are more supportive than family. As the saying goes, “We can choose our friends, but not our family.” To me, that is the gift given to us as we continue our journey into the unknown looking for brightness and meaning.
Our community is a microscopic view of the world. We come in all shapes and sizes. We have different names. We look differently on the outside, but deep down we are all the same when it comes to compassion and caring. It is the inward appearance that is important. The stuff that exceptionalism is made from.
We should not need a season or holiday to awaken in us the wonderful opportunities for us to enjoy the greatest gift of all — life. The holidays and seasons do afford us one great advantage. The opportunities to regroup, take stock, reevaluate, and, yes, begin again. That is the function of the various commemorations in our journey. Forget the fringes, the gifts, and concentrate on the values we share. That is what new beginnings such as a new year are all about.
So, here I sit, once more, watching the familiar tearjerker, knowing full well the predictable outcome. This time, however, I learned a new lesson wrapped in a familiar package called faith. “Not new,” you say? Well, perhaps not, but new in the sense that it awakens in me what I have known for some time, but occasionally forget: Faith can be sustaining. Faith can have meaning. Faith is enduring. Faith is the essence of life, because it gives us hope. Faith gives us purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning.
As we continue to join together in enjoying each other, even when it appears that we are not, my faith rests with the blessings I experience watching everyone continue to thrive. Most of all, my faith is enhanced knowing that God is part of our voyage toward complete fulfillment and contentment.