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:
- Why was I born?
- Why must I die?
- 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 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?
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By Linda Ellis, Copyright © 2020 Inspire Kindness, thedashpoem.com