Yom Kippur – Yizkor — 5771

21/09/2010 at 20:43 Leave a comment

“The Bridge of Love”

Yom Kippur — Yizkor

18 September 2010

Neil F. Blumofe

Kol haOlam Kulo, Gesher Tsar Meod. V’haikar: Lo Lefacheid K’lal

As we gather for our prayers of remembrance, we intensify our connections to those who reared us or raised us and to those who were our teachers.  It is likely that we have feelings still outstanding and too, perhaps issues that are still unaddressed, and as we navigate our way through the thickets of our memory, let us draw meaning from a 20th century writer who said, “there is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

I recently came across this story –

Recently, standing near the security gate at the airport, I overheard a father and a daughter saying goodbye in their last moments together before the plane departed.  As they hugged, the father said, “I love you and I wish you enough.”

The daughter replied, “dad, our life together has been more than enough.  Your love is all that I ever needed.  I wish you enough too, dad.”

They hugged and kissed goodbye and the daughter got on the plane – the father walked over to the window where he was trying not to cry – he suddenly turned to me and asked, “did you every say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“I have,” I replied – “and forgive me for asking, but why is this a goodbye for forever?”

“I am old, and my daughter lives very far away.  I am not well and I have challenges ahead and the reality is – that the next time she comes here will be for my funeral.”

“Wow.  And let me ask you – when you were saying goodbye just now, you said, ‘I wish you enough.’  May I ask what that means?”

The old man smiled – he said, “that’s a wish that has been handed down in my family for generations – my parents used to say it to everyone.”  He stopped and was remembering it and then smiling, continued, “when we said, I wish you enough, we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.”  He then faced me and shared the following:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.  I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.  I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.  I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.  I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.  I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.  I wish you enough hellos to get you through final goodbyes.

He then started to cry and walked away.  They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them – and an entire life to forget them.

We are the bridge between worlds.  Let us recognize the order and the disorder in our lives – let us unlock our hearts and give our appreciation for the affectionate and the harsh lessons that we have learned over the years.  Let us cry tears of loneliness, of gratitude and of regret – our tradition is so committed to remembering and acknowledging, to keep memories in our lives forever – to draw upon them for strength and to come to terms with those that challenge us.  We are inspired and guided and also we are tested — by questions that have no answers, by genes and character traits that we have inherited that continue to confound and vex us and lives that have so tragically passed away.

To know where we have come from allows us to know where we are going – remembering is an unwavering component of our covenant, and it is this day that gives us the space to safely let our sorrows flow.

How would we live the last few moments of our life?  Once, at a shiva minyan, a letter was read, written by a son to his mother.  It began like this:  “Dear Mom – Thank you.  I’m sorry.  I forgive you.  I love you.”

Can we concentrate on these statements – can they allow us to face our pasts with integrity and also allow us a bit of healing and a bit of peace?  What does it mean to thank someone?  As we participate in this Yizkor service, how can we think of things that those who are no longer with us, did for us – actions that can now never be repaid and a sentiment that still may fill us with appreciation, which, in itself, is a blessing.

Is it possible to say I’m sorry now?  To maintain a connection with one who is dead and to revisit unresolved issues – especially dwelling on things for which we are to blame?  Too, are we able to grant forgiveness for things that still grieve us?

And truly, what does it mean to love another?  It is said that love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look that becomes a habit.  The writer, Zora Neale Hurston writes that love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.  Are we capable of such a thing?  Now, publicly can we express ourselves?  Are we able to draw these powerful lessons of living and apply them to both the living, as well as the dead?  Can we believe that this is possible for ourselves, as well?  Can we hear, “you’re welcome, you’re forgiven, I am also sorry and I love you too, unconditionally?”

Let us expose our hearts in this sacred moment to the dead, as we seek and as we give amends.  Let us apply these lessons in our world as well and not wait too long in expressing how we feel to another.  Let us take a chance, let us be, just for an instant, defenseless.  May we find feeling – feeling that restores us, that encourages us and allows us to walk a bit further on that bridge, the narrow bridge of love.
Kol haOlam Kulo, Gesher Tsar Meod. V’haikar: Lo Lefacheid K’lal

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