(from my High Holy Day message in TBS Kol Sholom)
Summer is here and I look back and wonder what happened to the rest of the year. Time seems to be moving more quickly and each month is a passing memory. I listen to children speak about how long the school year has been and that it seems like forever since their last summer break. And with these comments I wonder, where have I been? Why is time moving so quickly – one day into the next, one sunrise into sunset before I can even realize that the day is already a memory?
It was only yesterday that we gathered together last High Holy Days, reflecting on the year that was and setting goals for a new beginning. And here we are again, a time to reflect, a time to contemplate, a time to dream.
As life would have it, we try to move through everything as quickly as we can in order to get as much into our days and nights as possible. It seems that the more we can do, the faster we can move, life will be more fulfilling. But instead, the Talmud teaches us: Life is short, we must move slowly.
Too often life seems to be a race – the one who is able to get through everything first, wins. But the Talmud reminds us that this is not the case. Life is not a race during which we should be moving so fast that we forget to enjoy the moment we are in. Rather, life is short, we should slow down and enjoy it.
How often do we look at our watch hoping for a program to be over? How often do we look to the clock to see when one hour will end and we can get on to the next? How often do we check the schedule to see when one event will conclude so that we can rush to the beginning of the next? It seems that life has become a race that has no finish line in sight except for the finish line that no one wishes to reach.
But we are in too great of a hurry, wanting to check our to-do items off the list and move on to the next. What happened to the joy of just being IN the moment? What happened to being present?
The High Holy Days are here again and we are asked to reflect on the year that was and set goals for the year yet to be. We are at the beginning of a new year and the question is posed for us again; what will you do this year? How will you live your life and what changes do you hope to make? How will these visions for this next year not only affect yourself, but also your family and your community? How will you move more slowly?
Life is short, we must move slowly. Enjoy this moment and the next. Do not wish it away so that you can get on with the next item on the list, for if we do, the list will run out and so will time.
May this new year be one filled with precious moments that each of us pause to truly savor its sweetness.
Rabbi Heidi M. Cohen