Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Sitting with a group of people of advanced age, the subject inevitably reverts to what was, with little thought to what is. Traveling the length and breadth of this wonderful Valley, I have taught and learned many things. Among them is the most important of all – “Relevance.”
Some of us think about what could have been and get stuck in the mire of things we cannot do anything about. We cannot change the past, and in some instances have no control over the future. The great statesman Disraeli wrote that man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.
So here are some, in the twilight of their years, still worried about what might have been or whether it could have been done better given the chance again. Actually, our concentration should be about legacy. More important, however, should be the importance of our being – our relevancy.
How many times have we participated in conversations only to discover that the subject being discussed excludes us from contributing because we are not even asked for our input? It is as though we do not even exist, an invisible being sitting in a room filled with emptiness.
We leave the room, not being missed. The impact we may have had in the past does not seem to matter. We do not seem to matter. Some of us gravitate to others experiencing the same irrelevance. Some of us escape to an inner world free from criticism or disdain. Perhaps we should be thinking about the influence we had that still has meaning for some. Perhaps we should understand that our experiences could give more meaning to those just starting their journey.
A story is told of an elderly man kneeling in his backyard planting a tree.
A neighbor asked him why he was planting the tree, because it will not be possible for him to see it grow into full maturity. His reply was simple and eloquent. He remarked that the generations that preceded him had planted trees that now give him shade, fruit and enjoyment. It was now his responsibility to plant for the next generation, as did the generations past.
Our legacy is everlasting, but more than that, relevant as a lesson for the future. All of us have purpose. Purpose does not fade with time. Purpose lasts until the very last breath, and even beyond. Sometimes we concentrate more on the end and not enough on today. Some are concerned about after-life, and not enough about living today.
Relevance means to get into the middle of everyday living, contribute to the message of life, its meaning and, yes, its relevance. Then, perhaps, each day will have fulfillment, each new season rewards and each connection bring meaning to our lives.