It isn't hard to understand why Temple Shalom is often filled with families with young children. My friends and I want to give our children the profound ethical guidance, deep spirituality, and curiosity that Judaism offers. We are trying to give our children the chance to absorb the most beautiful parts of Judaism: how to get meaning and depth and purpose and community out of their lives. We need the Temple and its community to grow spirituality deeply within the bones and hearts of our children.
Septuagenarians and octogenarians also fill our Temple. Our eldest community members are leaning into deep questions of how to live in a time of loss. How to live in the absence of all the things we took for granted: health, loved ones, mobility, and time.
But we spend most of our time between the bookends of life and the Temple is one of the few places that helps us continue to grow and strengthen throughout adulthood. During the Shabbat Amidah I gently reconnect with myself. I try to remember my inherent value, separate from my professional successes or failures, and separate from my children. It is a time to hold myself accountable to my responsibilities as part of G-d's audacious project.
I recently read a passage written by Maya Angelou that hit the nail on the head:
Most people don't grow up. It's too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That's the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don't grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It's serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed.
We give children support to grow; patience, understanding, and compassionate redirection when their behavior does not meet our expectations. Imagine the power of granting adults the same grace. Temple Shalom offers the time and space to consider our relationship with ourselves and the world, and the necessary support and love of each other to grow. This year, let's show up for each other with open hearts and minds so that we may all have the chance to cultivate the peace in our hearts that Judaism offers.