Here and Now

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Sometimes life shakes us up a bit.

Today I pulled into a parking place in a shopping center near my home. I was going to buy some vegetables for dinner, and pick up a prescription. I paused for a moment to text Linda to make sure that dinner together was on her calendar, too. Then suddenly a beat-up green Toyota careened into the parking lot followed by a crowd of police cars, their lights blinking and sirens roaring. 

I froze in the front seat of my car, unsure what to do, as police leaped out of the cars and pointed their guns at the green car. I felt like I’d dropped out of reality into a TV show. The police yelled so loudly I could hear their voices even with my windows rolled up. I hit the button for the door locks and slid low in my seat, aware that I was awfully close, should anyone begin shooting. Stay in the car, I told myself, don’t attract attention. I hoped that whoever it was in the green car did not have a gun, or would have the sense not to shoot.

The situation resolved very quickly, without gunshots. The man in the car surrendered and was arrested, and the crowd of cops relaxed, putting away their weapons, gathering up things and examining the car. After a few minutes, I realized it was over: I could go run my errands.

I still have no idea what it was all about.

Events blow into our lives sometimes as quickly as that fleet of cars roared into the parking lot. One minute we’re planning dinner, and the next we’re wondering if we’re going to be around for dessert.  Once a year in synagogue we recite a prayer about that (Who will live and who will die?) but in fact we live with that reality every day – we simply don’t look at it. If we looked at it too long or thought about it too much, we’d lose heart. But if we don’t look at it often enough, if we don’t stop and remember that we are mortal creatures, we may waste this precious life we are given.

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about a car accident that got my attention. Today I got another reminder: Wake up! Pay attention! Next week I will turn fifty-nine, and again, a little voice will remind me that I do not know how much time I am given on this earth. This is why we are advised by the sages to run to do mitzvot: we have no guarantees of months and years ahead. All we have is what Kipling called “the unforgiving minute.” All we have is now.

So the question is, what am I going to do with this precious time, this now? What will you do with yours?

Image: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Dalo_Pix2

7 Responses to Here and Now

  1. I had a somewhat similar situation in a parking lot. No cops, but a “bad guy” pulling a rod and then a gun on a man he had become enraged at, all in close proximity to my [then] little girl and me. Not fun. I’m glad you’re okay, I bet it took awhile to calm down. :-)

    What you said at the end reminded me of the story of Rabbi Eleazar advising to his students to repent the day before they die. Does a man know on which day he will die? So he should repent today… hence, all his days are passed in a state of repentance.

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  2. Wow! That’s an intense event! I’m glad you were not hurt, that no one was hurt!

    We never do know what’s going to happen. All I can do is keep myself save and hope everyone else is doing the same.

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  3. Dawn Kepler says:

    I’m so glad you are safe.

    I just finished taking a class on Writing Your Ethical Will last night. One person in the class said to the rabbi, “How can we have that end-of-life mindset so we can write from that perspective?” I thought of what had happened to you and said to her, “how do we even know for sure that we’ll all get home tonight?”

    I am extra glad that I’m writing my ethical will now. I want to leave a message of love to my children – just in case I’m not there for future important life moments.

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    • rabbiadar says:

      “How can we have that end-of-life mindset” – that’s the task, isn’t it? Great idea, writing an ethical will – and you have given me an idea for a future post!

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  4. temelevbarg says:

    And, just yesterday, a friend put up a picture on facebook….it was a quote attributed to Budda: “The trouble is, you think you have time.” When I read it, my heart rate sped up. Seriously, it connected at a visceral level. Guess I got the message, huh! And, today I read your blog entry. In the moment and not a moment to lose! Shabbat Shalom ya’ll!

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