Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Generosity of Spirit

I've always been so interested in the human condition - the human spirit. As a rabbi (and a daughter, sister, friend, etc) I interact with all different types of people in a myriad of different ways. But the one thing I notice about all of these interactions, and all of these relationships, is the need for human connection.
Whether it's the congregant who comes into my office with one question and then ends up talking to me for 45 minutes, or it's a phone call from an old friend, or even a connection with someone online (the power of social networking is something, isn't it?!!?) everyone is seeking the same thing - to be heard and understood and cared for by another.
In Martin Buber's famous "I and Thou" he writes: "Through the Thou a person becomes I" meaning that we can truly understand ourselves best in relation to another. We gain better knowledge of who WE are when we interact with others, lean on them, support them, love them, guide them, and share experiences with them. We are not meant to be creatures that exist in isolation.

One of the things I've noticed most, over the last few weeks, about others is the generosity of spirit that many people have. Most people want connection. Most people want to say and do the right thing and be a good person. Most people want to have good relationships and friendships and feel like they've contributed to society. But generosity of spirit is something beyond all this - it's an extra step further. It's going out of your way to help another, or to lend support, or to offer a kind word when unprovoked. Lately, I've been trying to open my eyes to the people around me. And what I'm noticing is really beautiful - so many of them have such generous spirits. It's inspiring....every day.

All of us want and need something beyond ourselves. That's why many of us drift to religion - to seek a greater power (God, Holy Spirit, Source, The Divine) that can help us better understand ourselves and better understand the world. For isn't that one of the most sacred relationships we can ever have?

The human condition is fascinating - just look around you, and you'll see what I mean.

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