This Too Shall Pass

This time last year I was in the process of canceling a much anticipated golf trip with some good friends for the second year in the row.  At this moment I am planning to leave tomorrow for this very same adventure.

Two years ago it had been for something joyful and celebratory, the marriage of one of my partner’s daughters.  Last year it was for the horrendous confluence of two major personal disasters, the imminent death of my Mother and the sudden collapse of my Father.

Readers of this blog will take note of last year’s postings, describing the ‘fog of suffering’ which characterized last summer for my family. My Father miraculously survived more than five weeks of hospitalization for a severe case of pneumonia, no doubt birthed by his immune system collapse after caring for my Mother with progressive dementia.

Although nearly 87 at the time, he did survive to return home to be present at the passing of his wife of nearly 64years.  Even a fractured hip which occurred five days after her death and the Shiva period did not deter him from coming back to nearly full functional capacity.

The summer of 06 was extremely difficult in other ways as well. The details are less important than the point of this posting.  ‘This too shall pass‘ is an important lesson for growth, transformation and healing.

Several legends surround its origin but that offered by Wikipedia regarding King Solomon is most fascinating. It seemed as if Solomon wanted to teach humility to one of his associates, Benaiah ben Yehoyada and he sent him out to find a magic ring which could bring a joyous man to sadness, a sad man to joy.  Assuming that this would not be possible, he sent him on his way.

Ben Yehoyada, the legend goes, found an old but wise jeweler who offered a solution to his problem.  He quickly carved three Hebrew letters into a plane ring, gimel, zayan, yod.  Which stood for the words, gam, zeh, ya’avor–‘this too shall pass’.

The irony was, when King Solomon saw the writing, he understood all too well that his wealth and power were meaningless.

It is a potent truth so noted–our sense of power or powerlessness is always exaggerated. Live life with conviction, gratitude, action but humility. Don’t anticipate tragedy, but don’t be shocked by it either. But be open to gifts of beauty, joy and transformation as well.  They are only moments away.

Rather than see this phrase as a source of sadness or futility, we can choose to view it as ultimate liberation–because all existence is change, live life in the moment, make the best decisions you can make in the moment, experience the joys and sadness of the moment–but don’t burden yourself further my useless worry– let it go. 

This is a prescription for healing–liberation from the burden of age–trying to control it all!

This too shall pass….


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