So, as life happens, I’ve missed a few days of #BlogElul prompts: Remember, Learn, and Intend, to be specific. Today is Pray. I’ll get to prayer later. But in the meantime, I want to share my thoughts. What follows probably covers all of these topics, but more than that, it’s what is on my mind at the moment. And definitely ties into considering my life and what I want it to look like as I step into the next year. So, as a make-up post, here is my offering.
I attended the funeral yesterday for a 96 year old woman, an elder and matriarch of the synagogue. Many, if not most, synagogues have at least one person like this: the person who is ever present…who comes to services even in their last months…who everyone knows, even the newcomers…who everyone has a story about. Who have accomplished much in their lives, and have continued to accomplish in their final years. The folks who are naturally role models for everyone–not only because they have lived so long, but because they have truly lived throughout those years.
Sitting in the funeral, I couldn’t help but wonder about my own eventual end. Perhaps because I was just in that kind of mood, or because of the time of year, or because I recently wrote a paper that contained my future retirement speech, or just because it was one of those days. That was where my mind wandered to. And I wondered who would come to my funeral.
God willing, I’ll live to my 90’s. But will there be a crowd there of people, not just who remember me for what I was and what I did, but for what I continued to do and who I was at that phase of my life? Even if I live so long, I find it hard to fathom that the things for which these elders are remembered will be even metaphorically true for me: I won’t be teaching either piano or yoga into my 90s. I’m not sure I’ll be at services nearly every Friday night. And I can’t be sure what my continued legacy will look like. I’m not even certain who will come to my funeral. Or who will speak. Or what words will be said.
And as I consider all that, I remind myself that I need to be more intentional about my relationships, especially my friendships. I love my friends and I count on them and they give me immeasurable gifts. I hope they know that. But I don’t always show it. As an introvert, it doesn’t always strike me that I haven’t talked to someone in months. And when I do remember, it’s usually around 4 am. I know I take many of my relationships for granted. And I know that I can do better–and that I need to do better. My friends deserve it. I deserve it.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of having dinner with 2 different sets of friends whom I’ve known for decades (2 different dinners). Neither couple had I seen in longer than it should have been. And with both couples, we easily settled into the conversation of true friendship–sharing honesty, sharing our truths, sharing ourselves. And, of course, laughing a lot.
Both of those dinners reminded me of how much joy friendship brings me. And of how much I miss out when I don’t nurture the friendships I have.
As I swim through Elul, trying not to drown in the weeks of preparation, I realize that I need to continue to cultivate the friendships that I have. I can’t count on the occasional text. I can’t assume that our history will preserve the present. I need to intentionally continue the building of these friendships–because even when the foundation is strong, the exterior always needs work. I need to do that work. I know that.
Doing that isn’t always easy for me. At times, it’s decidedly difficult–not because of the friendships but because of me. That’s something for me to work on. And I can. And I will. And I will look forward to a year full of friendship, overflowing with the blessings that overflow when those friendships get the attention they deserve.