Are You Still Re-Digging the Wells Your Parents Dug?

Genesis 26:18

18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them.”

One of the important themes raised by Rabbi Richard Address at last weekend’s Long and Winding Road event centred around Genesis 26:18, which recounts how Isaac re-dug the wells his father Abraham had built and which had now been stopped up by the Philistines following the death of Abraham. The text raises a powerful question which we in the Boomer generation do well to examine. Are we re-digging the wells that our parents dug?

What is Isaac trying to do?

Is he trying to establish his own identity by digging new wells where the old ones had been?

Or is he still trying to win his father’s approval? Remember that Isaac’s relationship with his father Abraham was a complicated one. You will recall that Abraham, in a blind and misguided attempt to demonstrate his faith in God, actually came close to sacrificing his son Isaac. Imagine the post-traumatic stress Isaac would have carried with him all his life as a result of his father’s gross misunderstanding of what God required of him.

While there are too many in our society that continue to suffer abuse, emotionally or physically, at the hands of troubled parents, it is also true that those of us who were blessed by reasonably good and loving parents also wrestle with questions not unlike those identified by Rabbi Address. The parent-child relationship never goes away. Think of Esau and Jacob and how Jacob deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that by birth should have gone to Esau. Granted, he had assistance from his conniving and manipulative mother Rebekah, but the theft may also be seen as a desperate attempt on Jacob’s part to win his father’s approval.

I always remember reading where the famous and highly decorated British general Field Marshall Bernhard Montgomery cried on his deathbed, “Why did my mother never love me?”

It would seem that our family of origin has tremendous power over our lives, even long after we have left the nest. Address says we never really escape it.

So take some to ponder these questions. Are you still re-digging the wells that your parents dug? Or are you building new wells of opportunity, grace and love and fashioning your own identity?

I will be away on study leave the week of November 29th to December 6th inclusive, but I would love to hear your answers when I get back. Please Note: There will be no blog next week. I will see you again the week of December 6th!

Why Am I Here?

My mind is still reeling after the wonderfully inspirational messages shared  this weekend at Siloam by Rabbi Richard Address of Jewish Sacred Aging. Rabbi Address began “Our Long and Winding Road” event with an invitation to a spiritual journey, encouraging us to embark on a path that will lead to a “mature spirituality.”

Drawing on his deep knowledge of the scriptures, the rich traditions of Judaism, and authoritative writers like Viktor Frankl, Ernst Becker, Irvin D. Yalom and others,  Address discussed the most profound text in the whole Bible: Genesis 3, what one of his seminary professors called the “finite factuality” and “the most important aspect of the founding or birth of religion.”  It is this chapter that introduces our mortality.

Genesis 3, Address notes, raises the three “Why” questions of our existence:

  1. Why was I born?
  2. Why must I die?
  3. Why am I here?

These are not easy questions, but they are ones which each one of us must wrestle with if we are to arrive at a mature spirituality. We can never fully answer the first and second questions, but it is what we do between birth and death that really counts.

Address’ words remind me of the wonderful poem by Linda Ellis, which I quote here:

The Dash

the poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

© 1996-2020 Southwestern Inspire Kindness, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

By Linda Ellis, Copyright © 2020 Inspire Kindness,

Great news! At Age 60 You reach the top of your potential and this continues into your eighties!

Recently a friend and colleague sent me the following information, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It gives hope to all of us in the second half of life:

An extensive study in the U.S.A found that the most productive age in human life is between 60-70 years of age. The 2nd. most productive stage of the human being is from 70 to 80 years of age. The 3rd. most productive stage is from 50 to 60 years of age. The average age of NOBEL PRIZE winners is 62 years old. The average age of the presidents of prominent companies in the world is 63 years. The average age of the pastors of the 100 largest churches in the U.S.A. is 71. The average age of the Popes is 76 years. This tells us in a way that it has been determined, that the best years of your life are between 60 and 80 years. A study published in NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE found that at age 60, you reach the TOP of your potential and this continues into your 80s. Therefore, if you are between 60 -70 or 70-80 you are in the BEST and 2nd. level of your life.

SOURCE: N.Engl.J .Med. 70,389 (2018) ..