Rabbi_ColbertTransition

Each week, I am reminded how life’s journey requires us to be resilient. Whether it is simply catching a summer cold or flu and having to miss a few days of work or playing basketball and realizing bones break and disks herniate and we are not as young as we used to be.

Then there are the moments we go through as our children grow up and move from preschool to kindergarten, then on to elementary and middle school; becoming bar or bat mitzvah, getting a driver’s license and then graduating high school and leaving home for college.  All of a sudden, we become empty nesters and our lives change. Do I know my spouse? What do I do with all my free time?

We learn to adjust. We find that having some free time is not so bad. Then we learn that one of our parents is frail and shouldn’t be living on their own. How do I begin the conversation that maybe it is time to consider assisted living? Where do I turn when life seems to be crushing me? My nest is empty, my kids are in college, my parents are getting older and their free time is taken up by doctor’s visits. My spouse and I don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. Where do I turn? Where do I turn?

We move on. A new phase in our lives begins. We find new interests. We look back to the first days of our courtship and marriage and we remember why we fell in love. We learn to rekindle our relationship. We bring back romance into our lives. And then the worst thing happens. One of us gets really sick. Life changing sick. I don’t know how much more I can change. But we learn that nothing is normal and that we need to find a “new normal.” Maybe we can’t charge ahead and continue to ignore life and all that comes with it.

Finally, if we are lucky, we have the opportunity to retire. Once again, we are trying to find that new normal. What is my day going to look like? How much golf can I realistically play? What if I don’t play golf??

Each of us goes through much of what I have described above. Each of us has to find our way in the world. Each of us has to constantly reinvent ourselves. Each of us looks for meaning at each stage in our lives.

For me, as I approach retirement, I know that I am not alone in this adventure. I have a supportive and loving wife and family. I have a wonderful community at Temple Emanu-El. Most importantly, God is a living part of my life. I know that I still have people to serve and touch. I know that God’s love is everlasting and urges me to bring goodness and love to a very broken world.

Transitions are rarely easy. They are usually fraught with anxiety and fear. In many cases, they force us to face truths we wish to ignore. Our tradition requires us not to sit back and let life happen to us. Rather, we need to actively shape our lives and if need be re-shape our lives. Knowing that God is part of our lives can give us strength. We sing at the end of our Shabbat services the last stanza of Adon Olam. “Into Your hands I entrust my spirit, when I sleep and when I wake, and with my spirit and my body also; God is with me and I shall not fear.”

I have been singing these words for all of my life. I will continue to sing them and believe them.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Colbert