ON REMEMBERING AND REMINDING

Three elderly friends,  while playing bridge, were also discussing the travails of getting older.

One said, “Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand in front of the refrigerator and can’t remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich.”

Another agreed, saying he often paused, befuddled, on the stairway landing, unsure of whether he was going up or down.

The third, a recent widower, played a card as he responded,  “Well, I’m glad I don’t have that problem; knock on wood,” as he rapped his knuckles on the table, then told them “Oh, that must be the door, I’ll get it!”

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

“Well, we all forget things. That’s what reminding is for.” (Words spoken by the controlling Martin Burney character played by Patrick Bergen in the 1991 drama/thriller Sleeping with the Enemy.)

  • What do you need to forget?
  • What do you need to remember?
  • What would you like to be reminded of?
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DISTRACTED BY A FOUR-LEGGED STOOL

 

Master: Most courageous lion tamers use two tools to control and ‘tame’ the fierce companions prowling around the cage: a whip and a stool, or a chair. Which of the two is the most valuable to the tamer?

Student: Surely the whip.

Master: No. The one most important tool is the stool, and more specifically, the four legs of the stool!

Student: That’s odd! Why so?

Master:  A lion can easily overpower, maul and kill a person. However, it’s only easy for the lion to do so if it can focus on the singular object of the person. The lion tamer uses the stool as a method of distraction. The lion, when faced with the legs of the stool, tries to focus on all four at once. Confused, and unable to focus, it stands there, frozen!  The lion tamer remains relatively safe behind the stool.

Source: Based on a story found in
David Feldman
How Does Aspirin Find a Headache?
(New York: HarperCollins, 1993.) pages 9-11

CONSIDER THIS

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the circus ring of life. Most of the time, we sit quietly, maybe confused, gazing at the wooden stool dangled in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

“You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.” —Winston Churchill, Speech, 3 December 1923

“The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” —Richard Cecil

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” —Source Unknown

THE TEACHER’S HAND

When Mrs. Klein told her first graders to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful, she thought how little these children, who lived in a deteriorating neighbourhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of the class would draw pictures of turkeys or of bountifully laden Thanksgiving tables. That was what they believed was expected of them.

What took Mrs. Klein aback was Douglas’s picture. Douglas was so forlorn and likely to be found close in her shadow as they went outside for recess. Douglas’s drawing was simply this:

A hand, obviously, but whose hand? The class was captivated by his image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one student.

“A farmer,” said another, “because they grow the turkeys.” 

“It looks more like a policeman, and they protect us.” “I think,” said Lavinia, who was always so serious, “that it is supposed to be all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them.”

Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten Douglas in her pleasure at finding the class so responsive. When she had the others at work on another project, she bent over his desk and asked whose hand it was.

Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Teacher.”

Then Mrs. Klein recalled that she had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time; she often did that with the children. But that it should have meant so much to Douglas  …

Source: Reader’s Digest

CONSIDER THIS

Today consider the silent language of hands: “Hands calm us, feed us, and scratch our backs. They intimidate, bless, encourage, and stop us. They soothe and caress. They draw our attention to the good and the bad, often suggesting exuberance or fear.” – Charles Flowers in the introduction to Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook

Today give thanks for the gift of hands in your life, your own and those of others who companioned and are still companioning you on the path of life: helping hands, affirming hands, encouraging hands, healing hands, open hands.

THE GOD WHO HIDES

The grandson of Rabbi Baruch, Yehiel, burst into tears in his room.

“Yehiel, Yehiel, why these tears? Why are you crying?”

“My friend cheated, it’s not just grandpa, it’s not fair for a friend to cheat!”

“But what did your friend do?”

“We were playing hide-and-seek. I hid so well that he could not find me; so he stopped playing, he did not look for me anymore. Do you understand, grandpa? I hid and he did not look for me. It’s not fair!”

Rabbi Baroukh, upset, began to caress the boy’s head, and tears flowed from his eyes:

“God, too, Yehiel,”he murmured, “God is sad too. God hides, and human beings do not seek Him. Do you understand, little Yehiel? God hides and humans do not even bother to look for Him. “

Source: Translated from Elie Wiesel
Contre la mélancolie
,  Célébration hassidique
(Paris : Seuil, 2014)

CONSIDER THIS

Guaranteed ways to miss the hidden God

  1. Live your life at high speed. No exceptions. Run hard.
  2. Stay scattered and distracted. The more clutter and activity, the better.
  3. Take everything personally. Never evaluate. Agree.
  4. Use blame liberally. It’s so invigorating. I wasn’t responsible, you were. Everything’s your fault.
  5. Don’t laugh, especially at yourself.
  6. Stay tied to your past. Elevate it to greatness. Live remembering and longing. Or missing. Why do it halfway? Go for it.
  7. Use the word ‘because.’ ‘I can’t change, because.’ Because is so little appreciated as a solvent for responsibility. Try using because. This will work.
  8. Never question or think for yourself. Just keep moving and accepting. (Refer to #1 and #3.)
  9. Continue to think of God as invisible and distant. Surely not present in this room. At this moment. Not while I’m reading a book.
  10. Reinforce the belief that your life is going to happen soon. This is not it, not yet. But one day. Maybe when I finish reading.

Paula D’Arcy, Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love

 

DO YOU LOVE ME?

Rabbi Avi Weiss’s father was the Askenazi Rabbi of Natanya in Israel. And at that time, Rabbi Weiss was the only one of their children living in New York. So, when his parents would come to visit him from Israel it was quite an honour.

Before one visit to the States, his dad calls and says, “Look Avi, we’ve changed our plans and instead of coming in on Thursday, we’re coming Wednesday morning. Can you please pick us up from the airport?”

Rabbi Weiss replies, “Abba, [father] you know how much I love you, you know how much I love Mommy…I was able to pick you up on Thursday but I can’t make it Wednesday morning.”

His dad calls him his childhood name, “Avrumi! You know your mother is not well, you know it is hard for us to schlep all our stuff and hail a cab. Please Avrumi, pick us up!”

“But Abba, I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I’ll send someone.”

“Avrumi, you’re now a hotshot rabbi in Brooklyn New York and you don’t have time to pick your parents up at the airport?”

“Abba, you know how much I love you, but…”

“Avrumi, do me a favour. Don’t love me so much and just pick us up at the airport!”

Source:  As told by renowned Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss
at a meeting of the San Francisco Board of Rabbis

CONSIDER THIS

“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words”
Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, #230.

What is your understanding of love?

Remember Fiddler on the Roof? One early scene illustrates one Jewish understanding of love. Tevye asks his wife Golde the very modern question: “Do you love me?”At first she tells him that he’s a fool or maybe sick and he needs to lay down. But Tevye presses her, “Do you love me?” and she responds,  “For twenty-five years, I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house,  given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

Well, what do you think? Did Golde love Tevye?

LOVE IS THE CURE

Master: “Love is the best cure. Love is the most effective medicine for humans.”
Disciple: “What if it doesn’t work?”
Master: “Increase the dose!”

CONSIDER THIS

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.  Maya AngelouFacebook page,  January 11, 2013.

MEMENTO

Once, someone requested of Mulla Nasrudin: “Give me your ring as a memento, so that whenever I look at it I will remember you.”

Mulla replied: “You cannot have the ring. But whenever you want to remember me, just look at your finger and remember that I did not give you the ring!”

Source: Houman Farzad
Classic Tales of Mulla Nasreddin
Mazda Pub, 2015

CONSIDER THIS

What do you think is needed, if anything at all, to remember your connections, your relationships, your friendships?

I thank my God every time I remember you,  constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you …” Philippians 1:3-4