A Difficult Journey

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

During the journey of life, we encounter many roadblocks and detours, and sometimes we cannot find our way to where we want to be because of all the distractions. We wonder whether we took the right road to begin with. Should we have turned to the left or to the right or continued straight ahead? Should we stop and start all over? What could we, or should we have done differently?

The difficulty we encounter, in some cases, has nothing to do with the journey, but rather the ability to understand where we want to be. It is like wanting to say goodbye to someone we love who has passed away. We find it difficult, because our minds start to wander and wonder about what was and what may have been. No longer will that person be there to encourage us, or guide us, or love us, or share in the many experiences yet to be. This detour in our journey is filled with so many regrets. And the guilt is sometimes unbearable.

And this journey we take contains instances when we have said things that perhaps were hurtful or misunderstood. Words are used to communicate, and there are instances when the communication is incoherent or just unnecessary. We humans are a strange breed. We want to be there for people in their hour of need, but we just don’t have the same enthusiasm to prop people up before they get into situations that require our help. We rush to help but are slow to prevent.

We are at a stage in our lives when little things mean a lot. A touch, a caress, or a hug are the ways of our expressions. We talk to each other, but there are times we really don’t understand what is being said. We hear, but we don’t listen, or maybe we listen but don’t hear. We have reached our stage in life because of medical science and because retirement affords us the opportunity to do things we couldn’t do when we were younger.

Now we want to have peace and contentment and enjoy our children and grandchildren, and if we are lucky, our great grandchildren. Our maturing years are here, and with it should come calmness. We remain relevant because we understand that without relevance, we are nothing.

Then, a strange phenomenon occurs—a pandemic. We are told that this has not happened in over 100 years. How lucky are we to live in a time when we must endure the agony and the pain of this devastating experience? Not lucky at all. And yet, here we are.

Each generation, for sure, has had its difficulties, some destructive such as a world war or two, and some productive such as a cure for Polio. Scripture teaches us that the road of life is filled with so much adversity, but equally contains joy and fulfillment.

There is hope that the end of this horrendous calamity is soon to be delivered, so that life as we knew it, will begin to become normal again. Some wonder what normal is or will be. Whatever we develop into in the coming months and possibly years, there is one thing we need to acknowledge: survival. Tales will be told for a long time. Then one day, the next generation will look back and marvel at all we endured, as well our determination to remain strong and resilient.

So, as 2021 begins, let us resolve to live life to the fullest, always remembering those who were not so fortunate to be with us to celebrate another milestone. Let us remember our houses of worship that will once again welcome us to acknowledge our ability to join together as we usher in new experiences, sing the familiar songs that bring memories alive, listen to the chatter as we enter the familiarity of a building that houses all our wishes and desires. On that day, we will know that all is well with the world and we will, with one voice, express our gratitude to the One who gave us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this joyous moment.