07 April 2010

Omer 8: Steps of Gratitude

Omer Day Eight

Last night my friend woke up, thank God, and a team of very able doctors are now trying to solve the puzzle of why hearts sometimes stop and then start again. Soon again he'll be draining threes up and down the coast!

While feeling the mystery and randomness of it all, I sat with a couple this morning to talk about their wedding. In first meetings I often like to know about who these people are, sitting with a rabbi, inviting him to stand under the chuppah for a sacred family moment. And as one of the soon-to-be-wed started describing her background, I realized that her grandfather was a mentor and dear friend to a mentor of mine from back in college and the world shrunk to a perfectly reasonable size in an instant.

It allowed me to tell a couple stories of this mentor's kindnesses--one when I was contemplating not registering for the selective service draft--a requirement of the Reagan Administration if one wanted to be awarded financial aid for education--and the other, soon after my father died, where, in a rare show of human emotion upon hearing the news said, "Oh, to lose a father!" the mentor arose from behind his desk and smothered me in a paternal hug which was profoundly heartfelt and rare.

The advice about the draft, by the way, was, as he liked to say, axiomatically true. "The probability of being raped in prison for not wanting to be in the army is higher than the chances of being drafted. Register and finish school!"

Since professors were my commanding officers, I obeyed.

I cannot adequately describe the gratitude I felt sitting with my mentor's mentor's granddaughter this morning, talking about the rabbinic view that a marriage between two people is an opportunity to bring more peace-loving beings into the world, but I was thanking God every step of the way.

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