When I recently commended my very dear friend on her incredible valiant spirit and positive outlook, she responded with: “Life is just too short.” Her poignant words were as sharp as a glass shard as she fights desperately for more time. I am truly in awe of her for how she has maintained her hope, positivity and strength as she copes with her failing health. She is simply unwilling and unable to stop loving her three daughters and husband as she remains surrounded by light, the support and love of her family and friends. I want to tell her how much I will miss her but I know to do so would mean that I would not be in the moment with her and I don’t want to miss that. For moments are all we have.
We so often become bogged down in the mire of petty disputes, old dramas and current perceived hurts and crises. But it sadly takes a tragedy, either of a personal nature or such as the current onslaught of terrorist acts, to be piercingly reminded of the precariousness of life and its preciousness. It is our challenge – and our responsibility – to remain fully present: aware, attuned and appreciative of each moment, moment-to moment. It is very important to remain cognizant of the importance of cherishing our loved ones, and to experience joy, sanctity and celebration in all the mundane and celebratory aspects of our lives. Yoga and mindfulness provide us with the roadmap for our journey and the skills and tools needed to stay present-focused with the understanding that there is something greater than our individual selves.
For years I had a long-held desire to become a Bat Mitzvah, to earn the right to read from the Torah scroll. On April 22, 2017, I crossed a significant threshold of adult Jewish life and became Bat Mitzvah, reclaiming my rightful place as a full adult member of the Jewish community. As I cemented my Jewish identity more deeply and embraced the totality of my Jewish self, I connected to my congregation, with the historical and current Jewish communities, and contributed to making Canadian Judaism more vibrant.
Standing in front of the congregation, I gazed at the beautiful Torah script and felt these special moments touch my soul. The intense shaking of my hand as it moved the yad or pointer over the Torah surprised me. Yet my mind was completely focused on chanting the words of our ancient text. I chanted from a very inward and centered place, and experienced how history and the present moment merged. I truly felt the strength of the Torah within me and was profoundly moved by the sanctity of the moment.
Of course, this milestone in my journey as a learner was one of the bigger and more celebratory moments in my life. But equally important are the quiet simple ones such as my resent visit with my girlfriend; playing Scrabble with my elderly mother and consistently losing to her; having brunch with my husband and kids, or just relaxing with a coffee and my purring cat. Indeed, life is mostly comprised of the small moments. And it is up to us to choose to experience the sanctity and meaning in all of our minute daily experiences as we also consciously decide how best to react to the lesser things that challenge our balance and equilibrium. Refocusing our attention on our blessings and the abundance in our lives will help to preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind. Over and over I find myself rising to the challenge to embrace all that life presents while staying connected to what is truly meaningful and remaining as fully present as possible.