Reflection by Rita Lowenthal

Reflection by Rita Lowenthal for August 2014

When I looked at my calendar in the beginning of the week and saw that I had signed on to give this reflection--my initial thought was--Why did I do that?

I don’t feel like trying to articulate what I suspect most of us are feeling about this disappointing tragic world we are caught in.

What am I going to say that you don’t already know about the necessary burdens of a full life?

I don’t feel like talking about Israel and Palestine and my tribalism and my Israel that was supposed to be a light unto the nations.

Or that little Palestinian girl who now shares that corner of my heart where Anne Frank has always lived.

Or my America whose current list of humane omissions is too long to deal with.

And that doesn’t even touch Africa and Central America or the rest of the Middle East and that holocaust against Christians that is happening in Iraq and Syria


Or our more personal lives--

Why should I tell you about my wondrous 100 year old husband--who isn’t exactly the husband he was just a few years ago--but who is this loving adorable old man that I adore.

Or my sensitive granddaughter who can’t believe that I love her enough because she adopted--not like real grandchildren.

And do you really need to know how my body that was always my friend has turned against me in sneaky ways and I want my old energy and brain back?

Why would I bore you with the fact that I’m replacing some potted plants with artificial flowers that don’t need to be watered? Or how much time I waste hating my computer, cell phone, I Pad and LA traffic.

OK enough of that part of my reflections of my last few months in the 2014.

Here is the other half:  By some summer magic I have spent evening hours on our deck, surrounded by bougainvillea and the evening cool, reading -- mostly about spirituality.

I’m 87, as you know my husband is 100. According to some expertise we are supposed to be in the final stage of our spiritual development. To oversimplify--which has become my gift to myself, as life gets more complicated--I think that means we are encouraged to accept disengagement.

I never really appreciated that word--it seemed so uncaring But I think these last months have clarified it for me. I think I’m starting to get it--and I think I really like it.

It wasn’t a plan it just started to happen. I notice that I have minimized KPFK for playing Frank Sinatra especially in the car.

Up until very recently I was a news junkie. But these last weeks have done me in. Morning and evening news is enough.

It’s not that I care less--I am simply no longer as addicted--which gives me time=--wonderful time--that I used to think was wasted if I wasn’t busy. 

It just happened--I no longer feel like a jerk if I take a nap--I love my naps.

But mostly what has happened is that I have caught on that disengagement is not not caring it’s just knowing the limits of ones power. And that gives me time to be oh so grateful.

How and why did I get so lucky? I don’t have to understand it.

I just know that I have been blessed with the genes of optimism and resilience that allows me time away from disappointment and fear.

So as I begin my day on that deck with the bougainvillea and sip my coffee I hear myself saying things like --So we are just a primitive species and we need more time--but if France and Germany can be buddies, why not Israelis and Palestinians.

And when I leave a meeting on the criminal INjustice system--I am warmed by the diversity of participants. People I would have never met--but whose values I share and that gives me safety and hope, and I am aware that we would not have been around the same table 25 years ago.

As for family my beloved Jerry is diagnosed with euphoric dementia. He lives and loves in the present. No fears for the future, no condemnations of the past. He may not be the husband I once had--but its like living with the Buddha and we both know how blessed we are.

And I have to believe that my granddaughter and I will be close for the right reasons--not having to do with blood ties.

And how’s this for the ultimate optimism?  As I don’t water my plastic flowers I muse that Israel will teach the world how to make the desert bloom. And I just got word that another Arab-Jewish Peace Group has organized in Israel; there are many others that we never hear about

Well, I  guess I’m glad I signed up to share this reflection.

I think I am more comfortable with the word disengagement  --if it means that I’m not addicted to my time and place and has given me the space for gratitude.

After all I spend most Fridays with you--and I know you get “it”--whatever “It” is. 

I close with a short poem I wrote some time ago.



And live in a place you

Love to call home

Then the everyday

joys and tragedies

 that cannot be avoided

may guarantee that you take

 nothing for granted.

And keep them in perspective


And this from Stanley Kunitz:


We have all been expelled from the Garden

But the ones who suffers most in exile

Are those that are still permitted to dream of perfection.



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