2021, a year filled with hope and fulfillment - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

2021, a year filled with hope and fulfillment

December 31st, 2020 SanTan Sun News
2021, a year filled with hope and fulfillment

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
Guest Writer

In his classic novel, “A tale of two cities” Charles Dickens begins the opening paragraph with the phrase, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
While it describes a different time and place, it surely could apply to what we are experiencing and have experienced this past year. I am not so sure there was “the best of times,” but it certainly was, and is, “the worst of times.”
Hopefully, we are entering the “best of times” as we continue to conquer this dreaded disease, COVID-19. Time will be the judge as to whether we learned anything from the nightmare.
If we look back, we can see that what was experienced over 100 years ago, taught us nothing as we face the same ordeals and frustrations, and losses. We struggle with the same rejections such as face masks or social distancing, as did that generation. People took to the streets condemning the loss of individual liberties. If we close our eyes, we could imagine it being today.
Perhaps King Solomon was correct when he declared: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…generations come, and generations go…” (Ecclesiastes 1).
He ends with “No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.” Are we destined to repeat that which was, and not learn from that experience? Read the newspapers, watch the T.V., listen to the pundits, all declaring the same theme of destruction and hopelessness. Nothing has changed except the date!
And yet, I find that there is salvation stemming from the disastrous encounter with our mortality. People are standing up to the challenge. Tired and weary they continue to show compassion and sensitivity toward the stricken.
Overwhelmed by the numbers of the afflicted, they persevere to bring us back to normalcy with their undying dedication and fortitude. This is the mark of greatness that we are capable of.
This is the result of understanding, only too well, that we are connected with a common bond of survival. This represents “the best of times,” as well as the best in us.
Now we are involved in welcoming a new year.
Perhaps we should look at this milestone as an opportunity to release the bonds of frustration. Perhaps we should try to understand that a New Year represents the willingness to start over with a new outlook on the future. Perhaps we should learn from those who were in the forefront of salvation so that our responsibility toward one another will continue to reflect caring and sharing.
Nothing in life is meaningless, and surely nothing in life is useless. Every breath we take reflects the goodness that can be found in each of us because these breaths stem from the breath that was breathed into us at the very beginning (Genesis 2:7). It is the breath of life and fulfillment and meaning.
It is the breath of the Divine reaching into us to announce that life is to live regardless of the detours that cause us pain and grief.
By the time this is read, I am sure we will have received a great deal of help from those responsible for our well-being. The many men and women who strived to ensure that our lives will have meaning have demonstrated over and over again their willingness to remain steadfast in completing their assigned tasks so that we will always have “the best of times” ahead.
We will continue to weep for the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, and the millions throughout the world who were lost to the destructive force of a disease that took control of our lives.
The stories of suffering were and continue to be heart wrenching. The pain depicted on the faces of survivors is our pain, their loss is our loss, their memories are now our memories.
Yes, a New Year gives us the opportunity to not only cast off the past but look forward to the future as well. Our responsibility to the betterment of society should be part of our awareness. And our devotion to the One who gave us the ability to survive is paramount in remaining strong and vibrant as we face the future cheerfully.
Nothing in life is meaningless.
Rabbi Irwin Weiner is spiritual leader of the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation.