Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Rose & The Garbage Bin

Dear Henry,
     This past Friday afternoon proceeded as most Friday's do. The unreal divine aroma of Shabbos wafting in the kitchen. Sampling in excess the gourmet, extremely delicious foods that would be served on Friday night for Shabbos dinner. And of course, the typical trip to the garbage dumpster on the side of the house where I fulfill one of my essential husbandly duties by taking out the trash. But this particular trip to this particular garbage bin on this particular Friday, dear Henry, was different. As I lifted the lid to the garbage bin with my tan right hand, I held my nose with my stubby left fingers, trying to avoid the inevitable stench of week old diapers filled with fecal matter from my 18 month old princess. I understand, dear Henry, that this was probably too much information, and for that I apologize; I'm just trying to convey an accurate picture of the day's events for the sake of my thousands upon thousands of reader across the expansive universe.
          As I put the lid back down, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made my mouth drop. I saw a glistening shining rose that was as gold as the metals that the United States Olympics teams are going to be bringing home to this magnificent glorious country. And unlike the roses that I was accustomed to purchase for my wife when we lived in Washington Heights, Manhattan, this rose was not dyed fluorescent colors. It's beauty was breathtakingly natural. And it stood at about 5 feet tall, weighing in at 1.5 Ibs. I had quite frankly never seen anything quite like it. So I did a double take: right in front of me was my large smelly garbage bin- and behind it was one single magnificent golden rose. 
       Over the course of the Shabbos which immediately followed this discovery, I did some self reflection and came out with not one, not two, not even three, but four profound life lessons that this rose taught me about the most deep secrets of life.

1) Sometimes in life, if you look a little harder, you will uncover tremendous beauty, meaning and depth. If one of the tens of thousands of cars who drive on my street every day looked toward my house, they would observe an ugly garbage bin. But if only they looked a little deeper, if they gazed a little more carefully they would have discovered the beautiful rose nestled behind it. So too in life, many times we are quick to make negative judgments about other people or about situations-- but if we held off on judgment, and dug a little more, we would see the beauty behind what is really going on. We know that G-d not only created the world, but He continues to sustain it and run it every single day. Everything that happens in our world around us is latent with meaning and purpose. Sometimes it appears very smelly and ugly-- but we need to remember that He has a plan and behind the mess and the smell lies tremendous depth and purpose.

1a) Additionally, in our superficial world, people are very quick to dismiss potential life partners because of what they see with one quick look on the outside. But perhaps if they would dig in a little bit deeper, they would uncover a perfect rose beneath the surface.

2) Our happiness is up to us. Life can be a matter of perspective. And unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage going on in the world at large, and also in our own individual lives. However, there is also tremendous amounts of good that is happening-- again, both in the larger world, and in our own individual domains. The choice of what we will focus on remains up to us: We can either by Debbie Downers and Negative Nancy's and focus on the smelly garbage. Or, we can choose to focus on the remarkable flowers in our lives. The choice remains up to us.

3) G-d, in His infinite kindness, showers us with blessings we don't even deserve. I moved into my house a year ago. I like to think that as a new home owner, I am becoming more handy, and I have learned a lot of new sweet skills: like nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills. And, I can now rake some leaves. I can hire a lawn-mowing service, and I can even kill some weeds and dandelions. One thing I cannot yet do, since I have never done it, is plant flowers. My golden rose did not blossom because of the toil and effort I put into my garden. It blossomed because someone before me planted it, leaving it for me to enjoy its beauty. I did nothing whatsoever to earn it, or deserve it. So too, In G-d's immense kindness He grants us enormous blessings in our daily lives, even if as a result of our own actions and individual merit, we don't deserve it. It is our duty to acknowledge these gifts, and to be grateful to the Almighty for them.

3a) On a similar note- we also must acknowledge, as the Talmud does in a similar vein, that our actions have massive ramifications for the future generations. The Talmud relays the famous story of a man who asks an elderly farmer why he is planting a tree when he for sure will not be able to enjoy its fruits. The man wisely responds, perhaps I will not be able to enjoy its fruits, but my children undoubtedly will. We must choose our actions carefully and deliberately, as they will have a tremendous impact on future generations.

4) Out of the garbage sprouts beauty and life; out of the ashes brings forth hope. I believe that the rose appearing specifically alongside the garbage bin conveys a lesson embodied uniquely by the Jewish people for thousands of years. Generation after generations nations rise up to destroy us. And tragically, they cripple us in immensely painful ways. But time, after time, after time, we rise up again anew, and we continue to spring forth life. 

Forever Yours,
Danny Wolfe

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