It was the 60s folk-rock band The Byrds that made the immortal words of Ecclesiastes sing to us through the music composed by Pete Seeger: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). In essence, the biblical author of these lyrics teaches us to appreciate the moment at hand for it passes so quickly. Instead of dwelling in the past or wishing away the present in the hopes of some unattainable future, Ecclesiastes beckons us to live in the present, the here and now, and appreciate the wonder of this moment right now.
The same can be said about life in general. We need to hold onto the preciousness of life by enjoying each day, maximizing its potential and learning its lessons. Indeed, a meditation on the prayer announcing the new month proclaims: “Teach us to number our days that we may use each precious moment wisely.” It is not a matter of mere longevity, of counting the days as they pass one by one that is important, but how we make each day count. Quality of life is as important—if not more so—than quantity of life. It is a special blessing to have both quantity and quality of life.
In order to get the most out of our lives, both in times of challenge as well as in times of blessing, the Spiritual Care Department has created Spiritual Care Resource Centres on every residential floor of the Apotex and every patient floor of the hospital as well as on the main level of the Terraces. These Spiritual Care Resource Centres are display racks stocked with various LifeLight booklets written from a uniquely Jewish spiritual perspective to provide comfort, advice and additional resources for help. These LifeLights booklets are inspirational information brochures about challenges to our emotional and spiritual lives and how to deal with them. They are written by wise and caring souls, who know the inner territory of grief, doubt, confusion and longing. Each seeks to lighten a dark and difficult path down which we may be travelling in the hope of offering a way through that darkness into the light of personal meaning and wholeness. Each seeks to help us make the most of every day. I invite you to pick up a copy of those booklets that speak to your circumstances and find solace and direction from its contents.
Currently we are in the period of the Jewish calendar known as Sefirat HaOmer (Counting of the Omer). Jews mark each day from Passover to Shavuot, from slavery to freedom, from persecution to redemption, from spiritual darkness to revelation on Mt. Sinai, by counting an Omer. The Omer was a measure of barley grain brought to the Jerusalem Temple as an offering of thanksgiving for the annual harvest of grain. It symbolized the people’s overcoming of the growing season’s uncertainties and hope for a fruitful future. In many ways, this spiritual journey of our ancestors mirrors our own lives with their triumphs, disappointments and hopes. Indeed, just as we count the days in the ritual life of our people, so may we mark the significant moments in our own lives with perseverance in times of difficulty, appreciation in times of bounty and hope in what lies ahead. Amen.