Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grateful for Time-The gift of a New Year

A man was leisurely looking up at the clouds and identifying various shapes. This led him to talk to God.
“God,” he said, “how long is a million years?”
God answered,”In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”
The man asked again,”God, how much is a million dollars?”
God answered, “ To Me,it’s a penny.”
The man then asked,  “God, may I have a penny?”
God replied, “In a minute!”

With the beginning of a New Year our attention is focused sharply on the passing of time. To quote Richard Dawkins-”Time is pretty mysterious stuff-almost as elusive and hard to pin down as conscious awareness.”(Science in the Soul-p.329)
Objectively the notion of time’s passage is determined by astronomy-the rotation of the earth around the moon and the sun. The measurement of time is humanly constructed. The experience of time is highly subjective. If one is sitting ‘shiva” the mourning period ,time is agonizingly slow.If one is in the midst of a joyous celebration, time flies.

Every day each one of us is given the identical amount of a fresh supply of time-this day of 24 hours of 60 minutes each is our gift of life,

Rosh Hashanah is a new beginning,a time for a revisit of the notion of time and its value to us.

In Judaism, time is of the essence. As Heschel wrote so magnificently in his book on the Sabbath, Judaism is a religion of time, aiming at the sanctification of time.
How do we sanctify time?

We are provided with holy days- Shabbat, festivals in each season.But what does the word holiness or sanctity mean? Many are the interpretations.
Holy is godly , something set apart from the ordinary and considered uniquely special. 
May I suggest  a formulaic interpretation that may help us sanctify time-our lives-in the New Year.
 I see holiness as containing three component parts, each one beginning with the letter “A.”

Like the triple A batteries, holiness allows us to reinvigorate  and energize our spirits and souls so as to live life to the fullest and not waste or kill or avoid the time that is given us.

Each day, by dint of our awareness, we can arrive at a fullness of being alive which not only brings joy and fulfillment to us, but  with alertness brings hope and love to others.

No matter how ordinary our days-rising in the morning, preparing ourselves for the day, having our meals, working, interacting with others-all represent opportunities for greater awareness and alertness to make our experience of daily living alive and sanctified, an expression of feeling the divine in our lives.

As the Psalmist said: “Teach us to number our days so that we nay attain a heart of wisdom.” 

May we al be blessed in the New Year with hearts filled with the wisdom of the divine, the wisdom of being fully alive. 

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