Our lives are a journey. In Judaism, the Torah tells of our journey with Moses from Egypt to the Promised Land, and that journey clearly reflects our own. We face challenges and celebrations, tests of faith and epiphanies, great joy and grief just as our ancestors did. And that is why we are here….to journey. But not only to journey, but to journey together. Now most of that Biblical journey took place in the desert. The desert is made of countless numbers of grains of sand. Each grain with its own individual shape and sparkle. When you look at sand under a high powered microscope, you see incredible things….pieces of rocks, minerals and volcanic material. No two are alike and each is astonishingly beautiful.
One of our most powerful prayers is the Shema, that says the Lord is our God and the Lord is One….One with us all….every grain of sand and every soul traveling through the desert and traveling through life today….that we are one with each other and one with God, even as each one of us maintains our individuality and contributes to the One in our own unique and irreplaceable way. We are all different and without our differences, there would be no depth or beauty in our whole. Hate targets that which is not alike. Hate separates and divides. When we can respect and come together to celebrate every person’s astonishing beauty, that is when we can be whole. That is love.
So as we grieve after this tragedy and mourn the missing members of our human family, we can still celebrate life with Pride. We can still focus on our unique purpose, our unique part of the journey that is still this beautiful life. And if we look at each moment and each other knowing that we are connected, then even our darkest times become more manageable and our joys that much brighter. In the words of American poet Julia Fletcher Carney, “Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land. So the little minutes, humble though they be, make the mighty ages, of eternity.” Our challenge is to honor those we have lost by treasuring each minute with love and with joy.