Tuesday, January 11, 2005

With the Blink of an Eye

My boss related that over the weekend he had to take his elderly mother to the emergency room. Initially he did not realize the severity of her condition. He did not realize that she had a heart attack. Once she was admitted to the emergency room her condition dramatically and unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. Now it is not known whether she will live or die. My boss remarked how it was hard for the mind to comprehend the thought that a person could be here one minute and gone the next.

While we know this to be true, this is not a thought that we care to think about. Everyone thought about it following September 11th, we think about it after funerals, but most of the time we banish this thought from our brains. Perhaps this constant knowledge would paralyze us.

I reflected on this thought while walking on the street during my lunch break - that this could all be over in the blink of an eye. It made me recall the words from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur davening, "Man's origin is dust and his end is unto dust. He earns his bread at the risk of his life. He is likened to a broken potsherd, to withering grass, to a fading flower, to a passing shadow, to a vanishing cloud, to a blowing wind, to dust that scatters, and to a fleeting dream." It made me recall the words of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim who taught that each and every day a person receives subtle reminders to do teshuvah, to be in tune with what is truly important in our lives.

These are not thoughts we want to push from our consciousness.

These are not thoughts that need to paralyze us.


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