The sunset of another Jewish year is now counted in hours. No doubt, the attention of many is on matters today far from the daily challenges we face in our own bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms. How tempting it is for our energy, time and passions to drift towards distant events in which typical people — those who don’t invest the far majority of their lives towards political activism — have negligible, likely less, impact on the world.
Our views and prescriptions for age old yearnings for peace, love and prosperity have little weight beyond friends, loved ones, and colleagues who cheer on the good intentions that fuel inspired hearts, minds, and the keyboards we reach. Yet we write, speak, type, dissect, uncover, analyze and debate — all for what? Sadly, most likely, all for naught beyond the historic record that we were here at this moment with our firmly held values, views and warnings. We leave a trail for all eternity.
There is a chosen peace connected to our hearts, minds and the fingers they direct much closer than we may sometimes want to know. A chosen peace for which our actions are the opposite of meaningless — they carry immense power, influence, and impact that can leave more than a trail as they shape the experiences of generations.
What could it mean as the warm sun rises upon our holiest days to turn our focus exclusively to those closest?
It would look like intentional time each day embracing those we cherish. Not the feigned embrace so often dismissed as quickly as it begins. But the much deeper, longer, fuller embrace of two people truly holding, seeing and witnessing one other, feeling each other’s breath and the miraculous rhythm of life itself as we allow our hearts to speak and hear words that echo only in the sound of silence.
It would look like separating from all physical and mental distractions to sit close, eyes, hands and knees connected, and experience the face of God within loved ones with an invitation to confide their experience of this moment in their lives; inviting, urging, encouraging them to “tell us more.” Listening not with minds that can be too quick to judge, analyze, fix or respond, but with hearts that know only love, acceptance and compassion despite differences in experience or perspective.
The chosen peace is one that can be kindled through the relationships in which we have an exclusive role, such as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, aunt, uncle, grandmother or grandfather. How tempting life makes it to turn from those roles towards much that embroils the mind and spirit, but for what purpose? And at what cost?
May our days of awe begin and end closest to those for whom we’d sacrifice our lives without a moment’s pause, passionately eager to know, experience, accept and love each other at this instant in time.
That chosen peace does not depend on votes, strategies or machiavellian maneuvers in Washington, Moscow, Jerusalem, Tehran or anyplace in between. It’s a chosen peace waiting, yearning, calling for each of us to embrace the Sabbath of one another.
As we bless God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the holiday candles, may we feel, see and witness the Almighty in the eyes, arms, dreams and passions of those with whom we most closely share our lives. May that Sabbath flame continue to forever illuminate pathways to the chosen peace within and between us.