Bookmarking goodness

“It’s worthwhile to forget a friend for a week or ten days just for the sake of the agreeable kind of startle it gives one to be reminded that one has such a treasure in reserve” George Elliot began a letter to a trusted friend. “Like discovering a twenty-dollar bill in your pants pocket. I had just that kind of delightful surprise when I saw your beautiful note.”

I love this notion of being reminded of the treasures we have in reserve. Particularly when demands and worries are buzzing in our heads.

Now seems like a good time to pay a visit to our founders, Abraham and Sarah, to be reminded of the treasures we hold in reserve. 

This week’s portion of Torah specializes in telling their stories. It includes stories of migration, trouble, family-friction, war, covenant, Ishmael’s birth, and circumcision. Three times Abraham responds to being called: “Abraham built an altar there” (Gen 12: 7,8 !3:18). One way to relate to this altar-building is as a form of bookmarking a setting as suitable to serve God’s sacred interests. What could these sacred interests include? Perhaps they include important conversations that draw out life-lessons. The stories in our portion tend to pause for such conversations. Perhaps there’s a divine interest in our making them happen too. 

It’s never a bad time to have a good conversation about something that matters. Your fears. Your hopes. Your struggles. When you pull a bench over to sit with somebody who seems like they need to be taken seriously, you show them that they matter and that you care. You know this to be true because others have done it for you.

If you’re having a hard day, try imposing upon yourself to have a conversation with somebody about something that matters to them. In making them feel heard, you’ll lift their spirit. In helping them rise, you’ll stand taller.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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