While sitting in mourning (Shiva) for my dad (as previously I did just last year for my mom), people come and say the ancient Jewish words of comfort:
"May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!"
The experience of sitting Shiva is humbling, being in mourning, sitting on a low stool, unshaven, and with torn garb, and reciting the words of the Kaddish (mourners prayer) out loud.
"...May He who makes peace in the high places, grant [in his mercy] peace upon us, and upon all Israel, Amen."
But more than anything, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from so many good people in the community.
People have come to pray with me, tell me wonderful stories about my dad, and generally share with me in my mourning for him.
I have been truly taken by the many people who have come both in good health, but also from people that were blind and with everything from broken arms to walking canes and to those who called thinking of me while they themselves are sick or even wheelchair-bound.
People have shared their own stories of grief to let me know I wasn't alone, and they brought food so I definitely wouldn't be hungry.
Others have told me how wonderful my dad was as a friend and in the community, how he made people smile and was always in good spirits (even perhaps when he had good reason not to be), and how he did so many good deeds (some that were known and many others that were not).
I have been amazed how people stay not just for prayer services, but take the time to really talk to me, to give selflessly and generously, even from their own busy family and work lives and schedules.
Some of the people I know from the community, some just knew my dad, but I realize how these good, giving people are really worth knowing as human beings--not because they were my dad's friends or gave to me at this time of mourning, but because they are truly spiritual people, who just desire to do some good in the world--like my dad who did this for others (and how he taught me all my life and especially as a child).
I hope that this time of mourning is not just one of finding comfort and healing, but also a re-awakening of my own feelings for community, spirituality, and selflessness.
I have much room for personal growth for myself, but also many role models around who have set the bar very high. Also, my dad has left some VERY big shoes for me to fill. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)