Friday, February 29, 2008


"One who sees a friend after a lapse of twelve months recites: Blessed is He who revives the dead." (Talmud, Berachot 38b)
What does one say when , at the age of sixty-eight, he runs into a childhood friend with whom he had spent virtually every day of his life from the first to the seventh grade of elementary school?
People were drifting into the board room; I was chatting with early comers; about fifteen minutes remained before the start of the lecture, one I was to present on gratefulness-"I thank, therefore I am."
It was a cold evening, the streets of Toronto were blanketed in snow; it continued to be a harsh winter, even for Canadian standards. I felt like I was back home in Montreal, my place of birth and wonderful childhood years.
As I mixed with the audience , I looked up and my eyes locked onto the face of someone who had just entered the room.
"Arthur E.!" His name darted out from under layers of memory.It was the same face -only now it had balded with whitened tufts of hair on either side, skin darkened and subdued by the passing years. We embraced, and for a fleeting moment sixty years of separation vanished and I touched a time of carefree fun and mischief- filled moments. We quickly caught up with one another's lives. A mutual childhood friend was mentioned ; a proud declaration of his being grandfather to fourteen grandchildren ; his living across the street from the synagogue, the location of that evening's lecture .
Arthur E. My mind journeyed back to his parents, a kind , gentle, and soft-spoken man who sadly had died at an early age, and a feisty mother who left this world several days shy of reaching her one- hundredth birthday. Time had blurred the clarity of childhood. Yet, I always
remembered Arthur's birthday; it was and always will be , the day after mine.
The lecture was over-I tried to share my belief that gratefulness is a vital path on our spiritual journeys through life. We said goodbye. I thought: Could the abandon of insouciant bike riding, ice skating on frozen ponds, furtive smoking of first cigarettes in back lanes, simply hanging out, be resurrected? Even if not, I am grateful for the moment of reconnected friendship, an oasis of refreshment along the often dry and dusty trek through the wilderness of life.
And so I recite, with abiding gratitude: "Blessed be He who revives the dead." Amen.

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