How often have we heard the phrase-"the good old days" - pronounced almost prayerfully by those who wax nostalgic about the past. I can easily understand this inclination; to romanticize the past is often a wonderful way to make the present more bearable. Upon closer examination, however, the only thing that is accurate about this statement is the fact that the days were old; they certainly were not good! By and large, those days we wistfully yearn for were more harsh, demanding and painful than today.
I have just returned from visiting my in-laws. For the first time in weeks, my mother-in-law wore a smile on her very lovely face. Prior to today, weeks went by during which she struggled with the agony of crushing back pain. Unable to walk, eat or smile, this 91 year old woman felt utterly hopeless. Her 91 year old husband sank into a silent depression, suffering sympathetically with his wife of over 65 years.
Several days ago she underwent an epidural, and as was correctly prognosticated by the physician, the pain abated. Today she walked, ate and smiled again. He husband was singing again.
Year ago, in the "good old days," my mother-in-law would have been a prisoner of pain, suffering in silence until the sands of time would have slipped away from the hourglass of her life.
Instead, she looks forward to the more hospitable weather when together with her husband she will occupy a bench in the little Queen's park on the corner, surrounded by her community of bent over men and women hanging on to their walkers, drenched in the life-giving warmth of a sunny Spring day.
I am grateful for one of the hundred million miracles by which we are blessed . It goes without saying that life is far from ideal. I am grateful for the prospect of unfolding miracles in the future.
Mordechai M. Kaplan, the founder of Jewish Reconstructionism, an undisputed pioneer of Jewish thinking ,whether you agree with him or not, was known to have uttered the following brief addendum to the prayer accompanying the return of the Torah scroll to the Ark:"Restore our days as of old"-he added in a whisper-"und a bisel besser"-and a little better!
I am grateful that today and tomorrow are invitations to us to add miracles to our lives so that tomorrow , when future generations think back romantically and declare the early days as the "good old days," they will , in fact, be speaking the truth.