Passover is upon us, the holiday literally just days away at this point. For many of us, this is a favorite holiday, a time that family and friends come together, a time that we celebrate the miracles of our exodus from the land of Egypt, a time when we rejoice in the rebirth of the spring.
As I’ve thought about Passover this year, I’ve thought beyond the holiday and the story itself. I’ve thought beyond the menu and even beyond the memory of Passovers past. And I’ve thought, literally, about the idea of “passing over.”
Of course we know that, in our Passover celebration, God passes over the houses of the Jewish people, sparing their first born children and taking the lives of the first born children of the Egyptians. This “passing over” was a means of protection, of keeping these specific children safe, doing those who were “passed over” no harm.
If we took the concept of “passing over” to mean making choices to act or not act, to react or not react, to harm or to protect, how might that apply in our lives today? How might it apply in the lives of our older adults?
So often we lose patience with those we love, especially those who are experiencing cognitive impairment. Sometimes we lose patience, in truth, with anyone who does not do things/see things/respond to things the way that we do. Too often, harsh words are the result. The eye roll, the irritation, that words that sting, that tone that cuts perhaps even more deeply than intended.
What if, instead, we schooled ourselves in the idea of, perhaps even the art of, “passing over?” What if we chose to just let it go rather than snap? What if we used my mother’s favorite counsel “Just take a breath” and didn’t react? What if we opted to be tolerant and forgiving rather than judgmental and frustrated? How might that change both our experience and that of our loved one?
We all do too much, run too fast, work too hard, juggle too many things. Our patience is thin, our tolerance at low ebb and the interactions that result are ones that, in retrospect, can do needless harm, harm that could otherwise be avoided.
My Passover commitment for this year is to use those words as my own mantra, reminding myself that there are many times, and many things, that I could “pass over” and that, in doing so, I am not ignoring or avoiding but rather choosing to understand, accept and practice grace.