Thursday, March 27, 2014

This is the day, and the love, that God created

There are many things which vie for "coolest thing a rabbi gets to do." Clergy of all faiths are blessed with the opportunity to be present for people in so many of life's sacred moments. We are entrusted with information and to make these holy moments resonant, special, and full of meaning.

One of the most special things I am honored to do is to officiate at weddings. While often an officiant is a choice made after venue, date, and obviously, partner, an officiant is a critical part of a wedding. To those who may be reading who are not yet married, remember this when you plan your wedding. The officiant is the person who helps you prepare for this moment, who walks you through this moment, and should be someone who you feel knows you well enough to support you in this moment. It is such a privilege to stand with a couple after months of meetings and premarital counseling, aware of what potential exists for them on their wedding day, and make it sacred for them. 

Someone said to me recently, "Weddings are fundamentally all the same..." It is true--there are many unifying elements of a wedding. Yet each couple is different. Each couple represents the joining of two families, many stories and generations, and is unlike anyone else who stood under the chuppah before. White dresses, DJs, caterers...they can be repeated. Yet, there are no two wedding ceremonies which are alike.

 When we see two people join hands and look at one another with the awe that they found one another and the humility that they have the rest of their lives to spend together...we are brought back to our own wedding days, the promises we have made and the time that has passed, or anticipate our own time under the chuppah. I remember when I watched my then-fiance officiate his friend's wedding weeks before our own. My father-in-law-to-be reached over during the vows and squeezed my hand. Both of us were feeling the amazing anticipation of what would unfold just a few weeks later.

As I write this, Micah and I are preparing to officiate his youngest brother's wedding. This couple knew each other in high school and reconnected years later. They are the story of amazing coincidences and circumstances and "right place at the right time"--they are beshert. We will say to them in just a few days that, as the psalmist wrote, "This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Truly, this is not only the day, but the love, that God has created. It is unique and special and to me represents the presence of the Divine in our world. And as we officiate, Micah and I will be reminded of the vows we made to one another 8 1/2 years ago, and all that has unfolded since.

For every couple who stands under the chuppah, remember that this day was made for you, that this love was made just for you. Your story has never been told by another, what is yet to unfold is uniquely yours...and all of us are blessed by it. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. I'm not a huge birthday person--I don't expect parties, big dinners or to-do's, or even presents (I told my husband what I wanted). Instead, I like the "little extras": cake, nice dinner, getting hellos and good wishes from friends and family.

This year, I really thought about this as a milestone. Unlike Rosh Hashanah or January 1st, this is my personal new year. It is when my clock changes over and a new measure starts. In that spirit, here are some thoughts:

I'm supposed to be the age I am. I don't feel old (because I'm not) and if anything, I still feel a little young. But that is all because of life-stage. I have two kids, a minivan, a house, a husband, a job I love, and I'm in my early 30s. I hope I am always able to use the measure of life, not numbers. There will come a time, God-willing, when I will feel I am supposed to be 60, or 70, because of the measure of life experience and blessings. I just pray I have the health to enjoy it.

Speaking of blessings, I am blessed. Simply, truly, honestly. Life's too short to be too upset about the little things. My family is healthy, we have what we need, we do work that is meaningful...I am blessed. On this birthday, I really just wish for this feeling to continue. In this past year, I came through pregnancy safely and with a healthy baby boy who, along with his sister, astounds me every day. I look at them and am without words because I am overwhelmed with a feeling of love, blessing, and the miracle that these two human beings exist and I have the privilege of being their parents.

For the first year, I didn't get annoyed by the Facebook wishes. They are sent with love and give an opportunity for reconnection. My birthday resolution is to follow up on many of these birthday wishes which came from people I only can see through Facebook, to make it more than a passing encounter into something more meaningful and lasting.

My birthday present from my family was a purse that I picked out (I sent my husband the Amazon link). I didn't feel badly not having the surprise because instead of just getting it for myself, I gave my family the opportunity to give me what I really wanted. They made me a scavenger hunt and it was given with love and appreciation. That's better than any surprise.

So, on this special birthday, I offer this prayer (and maybe you'll want to use it too):

God, thank You for bringing me to this moment in time.
Thank You for my health and strength and for the many blessings I have in my life.
In this coming year, help me to take time to appreciate them.
Give me the discipline to slow down and be present in a piece of each day of the next year.
Help me to find the perseverance to pursue the goals I set for this year, and help me find comfort when I feel the ways I have failed.
Guide me towards a year of goodness, health, and blessing.