Lost and Found

Unexpected-Road-street-si-007Have you ever been trying to find, perhaps with some urgency, a misplaced item and found something else you had thought was lost forever? These discoveries, being reunited with a forgotten item, are moments of joy, brief as they may be, interrupted by the necessity of getting back to finding your keys.


Looking for one thing and finding something else.


It happens time and again.


There is a profound lesson regarding the interconnectedness of experience in losing and finding, in being re-united with a lost item or a lost relationship.


There was a story this week about two sets of identical twin brothers from Bogota separated and inadvertently switched at birth and amazingly raised as fraternal twins (with the identical twin of the other brother) who each were re-united with their identical twins. Said one of the twins: “It was like staring through a mirror, and on the other side of the mirror, there’s a parallel universe.” In this instance, there were two parallel universes. [Click here to read the article about the twin brothers from Bogota]


Finding a brother (your identical twin) you didn’t even know you lost.


Lost and found extends to the discovery of what has been obscured from awareness, purposely hidden or sealed from discovery.


Judges can exercise their power to unseal documents that allow people, many years later, to recover a deep loss. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno may have not intended to aid the cause of women seeking justice for rape or sexual abuse at the hands of Bill Cosby. In unsealing Mr. Cosby’s prior testimony though, they found support in Mr. Cosby’s “hidden” admission many years ago about his method of drugging women and violating their trust.


In an unrelated case, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein unsealed testimony of David Greenglass from 1950 regarding the espionage case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenberg’s son, Robert Meeropol noted that his Uncle David’s testimony was the lynchpin to the prosecution’s case against his parents and that his Uncle had recanted years later that it was his wife Ruth, not his sister Ethel, who typed up the notes that were passed to the Soviets. The unsealed documents give credence to this claim. Robert Meeropol lost both his parents. He has now found proof to clear his mother’s name.


I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago (“Strange Fruit”) that the song, sung by Billie Holiday, was written by Abel Meeropol. I learned of the song from watching Billy Crystal’s one-man play “Seven Hundred Sundays” (Billy’s Uncle recorded Billie Holiday’s rendition of Strange Fruit) and reading about the song’s history learned that its’ author was Abel Meeropol. I was struck by the name Abel—the namesake of the first person murdered in the Bible narrative. Abel wrote “Strange Fruit” in response to the lynching-murder of two black men in Marion, Indiana. Many years later, there were two boys who had lost their parents and no one was willing to adopt them until Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne raise them as their children. That is how Robert Rosenberg, son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, became a Meeropol.


Loss and death, however bewildering, produces its own unexpected fruit, the twists and turns of loss come to unexpected fruition. Anne and Abel Meeropol suffered two miscarriages. I don’t know if carrying the namesake of Abel or his own profound loss inspired his thoughts and actions. Those two pre-natal losses found expression in Abel championing the cause of two young black men, murdered without a fair trial as to their guilt or innocence and two young boys bereft of their parents who, now revealed, may also have been victims of an unfair trial.


Looking for one thing and finding something else.


Ending to Begin

tag_reuters.com2015_binary_LYNXMPEB5N14J-VIEWIMAGE-800x430The end is wedged in the beginning; the beginning is wedged in the end” is one of the earliest teaching found in the Kabbalah. It is a wonderful guide in our appreciation of how events unfold,how life has a way of coming full circle and how important intention is to outcome. In Kabbalah teaching, the seed is what we call beginning and if we want to plumb the depth of our understanding, we need to reveal the “seed” level—the ultimate source of all that manifests.


“It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us —that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


The first and final bullets of a chapter in America’s history were fired in Charleston, S.C. The first bullets were shot to defend the cause of a perceived way of life (slavery) and instigated civil war; the final bullets were shot to defend a perceived way of life (racism) and instigated civil debate about the removal of the confederate flag.


Abraham Lincoln’s ending words of the Gettysburg address are wedged into the ending of nine lives in Mother Emanuel Church and are wedged in a new beginning for Charleston, S.C. By a vote of 94-20 representatives of South Carolina House approved the removal of the confederate flag from its grounds.


During the debate, which extended into the early morning hours in the South Carolina House, Representative Neal Collins, a Republican from Pickney County, called upon his colleagues to take action to remove the confederate flag. “As much as I respect the flag,” he said, “It’s time for our state to use this opportunity to heal.”


Neal Collins is yet a young man of 33 years of age. He is well aware that in voting for the removal of the confederate flag his end is wedged in his beginning. “This might be two terms in one for me—my first and my last,” he said. May he find comfort in his convictions and in the second clause of the above Kabbalistic teaching that: the beginning is wedged in the end. Mr. Collins, along with 93 of his colleagues, planted a new seed, to remove a symbol of a perceived way of life in order to create the space for a new birth of freedom for all.


Q is for Question

11266458_10204290210670657_2086933634983810389_oIt has been my custom to reward good questions my children ask with $5. Over the years it has cost me a bundle and I am now gearing up for the next round with Eva and Isabel turning four. For my older children, the monetary reward became quite secondary to the desire to have asked a good question and to their ever increasing ability to discern, (though sometimes first asking, “Is that a $5 question?”) the nature of a good question.


Some of the questions my older children asked: Where does the water go when you flush the toilet? If God created the world, who created God? If you were a chess piece which chess piece would you choose to be? Why are there only two types of people, men and women, why not a third type?


Questions come in all shapes, sizes and depths. They appear at times from nowhere in the conscious mind, in a dream or a sudden realization. The question that is now permeating my thoughts is all-encompassing one: Why did it take you so long to question this? It is a big question and also a question of depth—what is it for me and others that does not allow them to even “call” the question?


There is a wonderful story in the Torah of five sisters who approach the supreme court of their day with a question about inheritance. Their father had died and they were his only progeny. Why, they asked, should they lose out the equal opportunity to share in their father’s estate just because he had no sons? Could daughters not be afforded the status of inheritance? Perhaps the sisters started by asking a few relatives or friends, or they had already gone to lesser courts before presenting their question to Moses (who in turn appeals to God for an answer).


While the answer given by God (in this case there were no dissenting opinions) satisfied the sisters–it granted them the inheritance, the full story reveals that this decision only granted daughters inheritance rights in the absence of male progeny. These sisters though did call the question. In order to do so they had to confront, first within themselves, and then with others, the assumed reality that inheritance is passed exclusively from father to son.


Change occurs because we are open to questions. Perhaps this is one of the key differentiators between those who adhere to fundamentalism and those who do not. It is as simple as that—are you willing to question the assumed reality (of your family, your community, your religion, your science, etc.).


In the recent opinions written by the Supreme Court justices regarding same-sex marriage, questioning is at the core of their differing views. In their respective written opinions Justice Roberts (dissenting) bases some of his argument on our relationship to the past; perhaps, even suggesting that it is not prudent to question the past. Justice Kennedy, who wrote the opinion of the court, expresses the importance of questioning.


Justice Roberts: To blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise. The past is never dead. It’s not even past.


Justice Kennedy: History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries…learn from it without allowing the past alone to rule the present


Justice Roberts: The Court today not only overlooks our country’s entire history and tradition but actively repudiates it.


Justice Kennedy: The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.


The petitioners for recognition of same-sex marriage were calling into question what is the definition of marriage. For some people it is as absurd a question as my child’s question: Why are there only two types of people, men and women, why not a third type? I gave $5 for that question. The Supreme Court gave much more.


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