The Parted Waters
After I posted my first entry, a reader asked if the continued process of grieving for Mitch would form the substance of this blog. I reminded of my intention to post about my personal spiritual journey and contemplations. And though losing Mitch has been for the past year the defining reality of my/my family’s life, I am grateful to be able to share a more recent, similarly defining moment in that journey.
This weekend, our youngest son, Nate, celebrated becoming Bar Mitzvah. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, I have often said when asked, “We have three children, all of whom are above average…and then there’s Nate!” Truth to tell, all four of our kids, including Mitch z”l, have exceptional qualities. Nate’s include a unique presence, confidence, intellectual acuity and artistic ambition. All of these combined this past Shabbat to bring forward a Bar Mitzvah who carried himself with unusual poise, panache and humor.
But Nate did something more than that. He provided spiritual direction. In his d’var Torah, reflecting upon Exodus 15, the Song sung by the Israelites after the crossing of the Red Sea, Nate spoke of the healing power of music as a vehicle to renewal and joy. In speaking so emphatically of this reality and in the way in which he helped lead the service and the later festivities, he proved his point.
When Nate’s participation in the service concluded, our rabbi led a wonderful discussion about the possible meanings of the crossing. After the service, a friend approached me, saying, “I didn’t say this during the discussion, but I want you to know the image that occurred to me. The Sea was the sea of tears which have already been or might today have been shed because of Mitch. Thanks to Nate, that sea of tears parted, and he led us all through on a dry ground of joy.”
Love and faith can do that. They can part the waters of our tears and help us find our way to redemptive life and hope. Nate did that for us, on the very Shabbat when we might otherwise have felt only the sadness of the first yahrzeit. He reminded us, by example, that our mandate is to choose life. He chose to retain the date of his Bar Mitzvah; he chose to experience it and share it as he did; and he invited us to make the journey with him. Today, it’s my privilege to extend that invitation to you – L’chayim!