We learn the language as children, and take so many expressions for granted. And only much later do we learn to recognize the conceptual messages included in our culture and language. When we greet another, we say ‘peace’ or peace to you, and it becomes something we take for granted; something that doesn’t mean much more than hi. But later, when we start to examine what peace is, and realize that in our language (Hebrew), the word peace is composed of the same letters that describe wholeness, and we learn the difficulties of finding peace within ourselves, and peace with our fellows, this word of greeting, shalom, gains an importance that it didn’t have before. One has to work at times, to see beyond what is taken for granted.
We have two expressions by which we wish a person long life. One is, ‘may you live till 120’, and this is said because Moses our teacher lived for 120 years. But the other expression is heard just as often, and that is, ‘may you live long days’. As I grew older, I began to realize that this was a strange blessing. Especially after becoming acquainted with the blues of north America, where a long day is usually described as a long hard day… full of hard work and woe. But the longer I live, the more I realize that the day can fly past, and leave almost nothing behind. And that a long day means I have lived life, learned something, done some work, had some experiences. Long days are precious to me now.
Sometimes, when the task seems especially hard, or not something I really wish to do… I can find so many other things to distract me. And by the end of the day, I haven’t done much anything at all. How heartbreaking it is to reach the end of the week, and think… oh the weekend again; where did the last week go. No, our time is too precious, and whatever we have of it, we should use it well.
It’s a restless summer this year. At a time when we’re usually loosening up or going off for vacation, this year there are demonstrations on the city streets by different groups of disgruntled citizens complaining about the cost of living, of housing, and problems of medical care, And next door, in Syria there is almost a daily massacre of people asking for simple civil rights and democracy. This week, we watched the reports from England, of riots and fires; a lot of dismal news. And added to that, there is the fear for the economies of the US and a number of European states. All of which makes for a lot of noise in the media.
And so it is a great relief for me to have the Sabbath; a day in which I’ll turn off all those outside influences and noises, and enjoy quiet contemplation, reading and studying, and communing with friends and nature. My best wishes to all my friends for a peaceful weekend with relaxation and enjoyment. And may the next week bring us some good news for a change.