Yom Kippur Service and the Power of Images

Just back from Kol Nidre services [night before Yom Kippur].  An elderly man suffered some sort of cardiac event and had to be placed on the floor to the side while the service continued. Fortunately, there were several cardiologists in attendance [big surprise] as well as a gastroenterologist, dermatologists, orthopedists and some EMTs. They attended to him while awaiting the ambulance. He did not suffer a cardiac arrest so that CPR was not required. As he was being carried out on a stretcher, pale, gray, old and fragile, a baby cried. I turned around to see an infant perhaps three months old in its mother’s arms. It was clear to me that I was seeing the same person, as an old man and as an infant, simultaneously. As obvious as this may seem, I deeply understood that reality–every elderly person knocking on death’s door was such an infant, every infant [if they are fortunate] will become an old, failing adult. The juxtaposition of the crying baby and the old man was powerful. And yet there is no sense of sadness or existential angst.  Knowing the inevitability of death, of the impermanence of all things, is not depressing or demoralizing. It merely emphasizes the value of each day that we do have. It is incumbent upon each of us to make each day of that journey meaningful and fulfilling. In other words, don’t waste your incarnation. Choose to regard each day as an opportunity to grow, to heal, to choose love over fear and to choose joy over sadness.  May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.

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