Next I pull out synonyms that roll on my tongue and bounce around in my heart: plausibility, potentiality, feasible, achievable, realizable, attainable.
I just read a friend’s blog post about her annual
week-long gathering of a group of women. At their first day check-in they each shared what their busy and productive year had held. Until the talking stick reached the group’s 86-year-old elder. Contritely she confessed that she didn’t know what good she was doing in the world. Everyday she goes to the coffee shop and tries to be friendly, “to make sure everyone gets a welcome as they come in the door.” One day she rocked a fussy baby so his mother could enjoy a cup of coffee. “You know,” she went on, “people just need to be seen. Just need someone to look up and say, ‘hi; glad you walked into the room.’ Mother Teresa said the greatest disease in the world is loneliness, that if she could heal anything about being human, it would be to cure loneliness with love. I try to be like that, to bring a little love into the space around me. But I feel old. I don’t have the hearing, the energy, or the big ideas I used to. That’s all I got to say.”
Selah. I invite you to breathe deeply and read that again, slowly.
My mother is this elder to me. Because I am her family, with all the history that comes with a parent-child relationship, I don’t always see it. But everyone she meets is enchanted by her. People tell me all the time, “I love your mother.” She embodies kindness and hope and grace. She is proof that you don’t have to do anything earth shattering to change the world. Her nearly sightless eyes smile behind her dark glasses as she straightens her ever-so-slightly bent body and speaks a kind word to a restaurant patron. That person smiles at the child at the next table, because kind attention begs to be passed on. The child stops fussing and shyly smiles back, before giving her mommy a hug. And on and on into limitless possibility.
My mother and my friend’s elderly friend are preparing our elder places. Through them I see the possibilities for my own old age. But first things first. Right now I have today. Today I can dream about the possibilities in my still-energetic years. What I choose today will pave the way for tomorrow. And tomorrow’s possibilities will set the course for the next day. And all the while I will remember to smile at strangers. It could transform their day. It could call them to possibility.
My sister recently sent me this poem by Rabbi Yael Levy:
What is it that calls us forward,
To lift our eyes
And see that everything is possible?
Just for a moment to feel a strength beyond ourselves,
A love beyond ourselves,
And imagine we can step into the river
And change its course?
Perhaps it is remembering
That everything we do
Shapes the future
For the children we will never know.
Everything we create
Fashions a world for the people who will
Some day call us ancestor.
Netzach (victory) teaches
Raise up right action
And aim toward love and generosity.
Eternity exists in each moment
There is no separation between us
And what will be.
Drench yourself with possibility today. Selah.