Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Prayer for the Living on the New Year: 5769

joshua and ezra, dear sons,

if you have the time, please try and remember that this coming monday/tuesday is the jewish new year celebration.

it's a good moment to pause to remember your family's story and the cyclical start of a new year, once again, in the jewish world. i don't recall the exact year, but, i believe, it's said that the hebrew world began about 5769 years ago-- or something like that. either way, it's an impressive number of years in a dog's life, even a poor human being's.

as you know, the jews are known to have long memories. it's our blessing and curse. this veil of joys and tears.

as elie wiesel put it at the end of his novel 'the gates of the forest', 'may you be honest, humble and strong'.

or, what the irish mr. yeats called, 'this rag and bone shop of the heart'...

(the irish and jews lovers of language, poetry, misshapen g-ds and the sound of the word.)

of course, an annual, iterative, joyful celebration of the jewish new year doesn't answer any of the elemental questions that you both ask. and, ask so poignantly as young men setting out odysseus-like in our modern world full of turmoil and doubts...

(we, my generation, had dreams of offering you, our children, a rare millennium, shambala or tushita heaven, but, alas, in our vainglory have found only what others before us have learned: the dream of peace, compassion & humility is rarely achieved while the hubris and egoism of our race remains as profound as its aspirations...)

but, dear sons, you have been raised like good jewish-thakali yeshiva students to always ask the good question and seek the spirit of g-d in all of our works here on earth. it's not that you'll always find that moving spirit here (especially late at night when doing your homework...), but the search for life's meaning is intimately tied up with that very human quest for purpose and identity. it's one of our more noble attributes, actually.

thus, as the rabbis, rimpoches and gurus have said through the ages: remember to praise g-d (the spirit or dharma-dhatu which animates us), love your family and, while alive in the neighborhood, do a bit of good by which to be remembered.

if you make your friends laugh, your sister happy, your grandparents proud and your parents remember the joys of your childhood, you will have brought the true spirit of 'the lord, our g-d, praise be he' (as it says in the ancient jewish scripture) among your closest, truest and most beloved community.

let's remember what our dearly loved friend robin used to say, like the biblical prophet he was: "go out and make the world a bit less miserable" for ourselves, for others and, especially, for the ones we love.

may g-d have mercy on us all.

we love you, sons, deeply and forever,

mom and dad

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