There is an old Jewish tale told about Rabbi Zusya who believed that when he died and appeared before his God, he would not be asked why he was not like Abraham or Moses. He would be asked why he was not Zusya. His concern was that he would not have an answer.
When our lives are ending and we attempt to account how we spent our time on earth, we will not have to ask ourselves why we were not like any other great leader, artist, musician or poet. We should ask were we ourselves? In order to answer this we need to know who we are— a basic question we confront on the start of our spiritual journeys. When asked “who are you” most of us answer with our names and will them go on to list various aspects about ourselves in terms of family relationships, gender, work, religious affiliation, nationality, vocation and interests. For example, I could answer that I am a woman/wife/mother/American /Jew/artist/ writer. How would you answer the question?
As we try to deepen the search, we will perhaps reach a point where we can acknowledge that we are each identical sparks of Divinity robed in totally unique possibilities and potentials. It is awesome to consider that never before and never again will there be an exact replica of ourselves on earth. We each have a totally novel opportunity to affect this world because of who and what we are.
As a New Year 5769 begins, we can take the opportunity for personal assessment. Are we making the most of the gifts that we were given to be used in this life-time? How can we make sure that we are living up the highest potential within us? We can start by asking how much time we invest in those things about which we feel passionate and how much simple joy do we experience each day? The two, I believe go together. How, after death, do we want to be remembered?
We all live very busy lives by choice or by necessity. As women it is so easy to overlook the needs we have to care for ourselves. What better gift can we give ourselves at the start of of a new year than the commitment to take some time each day or week to devote to things that make us happy. Perhaps spending a ten-minute period in daily meditation, or making sure to look at (and actually see and enjoy) the sunset each day. Perhaps we are fulfilled by spending a while each week in nature, reading for pleasure, engaged in a creative hobby or listening to music that relaxes and refreshes. As we list those things that really bring us pleasure, perhaps we are close to knowing who we are and what we want to do with our time.
We all have much to do and many people who need our time and attention. On any airplane voyage we are told in case of emergency, to put on our own oxygen masks first before we try to assist anyone else. Great advice for our everyday lives too. As we begin to get in touch with who we really are, we can start to think about whether we are expressing all that we might and if not, where we can start to make some small changes that will allow us to answer the question “who am I” with the answer: “At least some of the time, I am a fulfilled and content spiritual being on this human journey as I fulfill my roles to the best of my ability”.