This morning I joined a family in their conclusion of shiva, the Jewish week of mourning a loved one. As is the custom, we rose from our chairs and took a stroll around the block. The Rabbinical Assembly offers a beautiful prayer and intention before the walk. These are the words we recited today:
“God of spirit and flesh, this family has turned to You for comfort and strength in these days of grief. When the cup of sorrow passed into their hands, Your Presence consoled them. Now they rise up to face the tasks of life once more…
For the love that death cannot sever; for the warmth they shared along life’s path; for those gifts of heart and mind which have now become a precious heritage; for all of these and more, they are grateful. Now help them, Adonai, to step forward in life, inspired by the brightness of their loved one’s spirit as they honor her by the way they live.”
Such a meaningful reminder and meaningful act. Such meaningful words.
How many times do we feel bogged down by what life throws at us? A death. An illness. Bad news. A slammed door or unanswered call. A curve ball we were not expecting. Times in which we so very much want to curl up in bed, hide, and be comforted by the darkness of the room. Hiding is allowed…but not for very long.
Because life demands acts of living. To live means to honor memory, acknowledge pain, embrace failure, learn, grow, and get up from our chairs and walk around the block. Walking around the block allows us to once again see God’s creations, sense the light of the sun on our face or the drizzle of rain from the clouds, and feel the way our feet hit the surface of the ground.
We breathe and know we are not alone. We see the world and the world sees us.
Our burdens may seem heavy, but a walk around the block reminds us that we are alive to face another day.
For that, we give thanks.