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Writing your Own Eulogy: Life as a Journey

02/10/2018 04:51:13 PM


“For though the good person may fall seven times, that person will arise once again”. (Proverbs 24:16)

We, the Jewish people, have been shaped by the earliest journeys of our ancestors. From Abraham and Sarah leaving their land, birthplace and father’s house and traveling to an unknown destination. To Moses and the Israelites leaving Egypt and proceeding on a forty year journey to the Promised Land. To be a Jew is to understand that life is a combination of trials and accomplishments. The character of our people has been formed out of the “regular response” to the call of duty and staying committed to the path, despite trouble and difficulty. 

What defines a Jew is the sum of all the decisions and reactions to trials that confronted our ancestors on the path of life. What is true for us as a people, also applies to us as individuals. That which is most worthy of attainment; such as good character, must be acquired slowly, painstakingly, and in regular doses.

 I recently officiated at the funeral of a man who had written his own eulogy. After receiving his diagnosis of cancer, he decided to review his life. He wove together the collection of memories, lessons, relationships, places and wisdom, which influenced him the most. At the funeral service, friends and family listened to these recollections from a man who enjoyed eight decades of life. We laughed and cried as he took us back on his unique passage from one decade to the next. There were graduations, job promotions, trips to some of the most beautiful places on earth and the meaningful relationships with his children, grandchildren and life long friendships. As fulfilling and satisfying as life had been for him, it was evident to those of us in the sanctuary, that his life’s journey also included sorrow, loss and disappointment. 

Because of knowing this man, and being a participant in this funeral, I am reminded that for all of us, there are no shortcuts through life. Happiness, a strong faith, and healthy relationships are the direct results of patience and a healthy dose of endurance. Nothing in life comes instantly or easily. Life is not only about the things we accomplish but also about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time when you have fallen. On the journey of life may we each find the measure of strength we require to get up when we fall and to keep moving forward.

Tue, 25 June 2024