We are all born with a soul, and with a spirit. And I have learned, over time that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but, rather, spiritual beings having a human experience.
Rose Meister, my Mother-in-Law, had the ultimate spiritual and human experience, when she transitioned from this world to the next world that she now comprehends and we still cannot. To many of us, even the idea of another world is unfathomable. To others, it’s exactly the place to which they want to go when the time comes.
What is it that makes Rose’s – or anyone’s – journey so spiritual? That’s a good question – and there are no easy answers. My experience as a Rabbi is that people with strong and abiding faith – in whatever it is they believe – do not fear this transition.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’ve yet to meet someone in good health that prays to leave and make this journey immediately. I am referring to those of advanced age who have an inkling that they are changing; becoming less alert, less mobile, sleeping more, losing interest, less focused, questioning their purpose, more forgetful, or losing their appetite. These are people who are not sick, and are generally in stable health. They fall into the category of older people who are now classified by a relatively new term: “Failure to thrive.”
This was Rose. There was no dramatic shift in her capacity, but rather, a slow erosion of the person we had known and loved for so long. She was now 90, and her caring and kindness toward others was intact. Her memory, attention span, mobility, interest, and focus, however, were all declining.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself – again – “What’s so spiritual about this?”
In Rose’s case, her spirituality was reflected in her attitude of acceptance of where she was and how she was…and her lack of needing to know answers to all the questions her husband, children and family had. Rose was okay without knowing. There was a part of her, of course, that knew without knowing, without being told, and without telling us that she knew. Rose lived in her faith and spirit. She didn’t need to ask questions to which she already knew the answers.
Next Time: Part 2
Rabbi Mitch Feld, MSW, is the spiritual leader of Congregation Yom Chadash. Rabbi Mitch is available for speaking engagements, spiritual counseling and memorable life cycle events. You may find him at www.rabbimitch.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-755-3764. You will be glad you did.
Mom’s Ongoing Spiritual Journey – Part 1