By Jo Strausz Rosen
Sometimes my brain gets overwhelmed by thinking big and overloads with all the “stuff” of my life. I think about the multitude of sorrows, significant and insignificant failures, timeless loves and continuing losses, sicknesses, dismay, and fear. At those times, I remind myself to find gratitude for good health and all the joys of family and friends. These thoughts can become the motivation to serve our community. We can use our lifelong experiences to learn from and bless one another. None of this stuff needs to be wasted. Whatever we have waded through and learned from can provide us with energy to repair the world. Tikkun Olam. Sometimes we forget that the power to make a difference, to repair the world, lies within each of us.
I get my inspiration from the people in our community. Many wonderful individuals in our Jewish community choose to make the difference by doing good things in honor and in memory of those they love. We mourn the losses together of our friends and loved ones and send tributes to our special causes that brings honor to their memories.
I meet incredible people on our JSL campuses. Some are the joy-filled residents, and some are the sincere and hardworking staff who tell me they are blessed, when I ask how they are at any given moment. They say they are blessed by Gd for their lives, their children, their work, their homes, and their good health. I take note of these reminders to stay aware and appreciative of my own blessings.
We don’t always recognize blessings. We may have complicated views about life that keep us from appreciating what we already have. Some of us get so caught up in what is missing in the world that we lose focus on what is important. We can focus our intentions and celebrate each moment, rather than obsessing about how to fix what is wrong. We can bless each other when we feel blessed ourselves. We can appreciate and accept all the things that come our way, even if we don’t always understand them or like them or are fearful about them.
Some of our JSL resident sages have developed an eye for joy. They seek it in the halls and wave to others in the classrooms we call life. They let go of judgment, put aside anger and frustration to choose the pursuit of purpose. Even during times of illness, they come to recognize that there is power in adversity that draws the soul closer to the vital life force we know as Gd. Their spirit becomes their strength. Meaningfulness helps us to see in the dark. It strengthens the will to live in each of us. Meaningfulness heals many ills that are beyond conventional cures.
I have come to understand that we are all in this together. None of us are alone. We find strength and meaning in each other and in our relationships. Our community gives us strength as we go about the task of repairing the world. Shabbat Shalom