by Melanie Gruenwald
For all these things
A song by Naomi Shemer
Every bee that brings the honey
Needs a sting to be complete
And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the sweet.
On this fifth secular anniversary of our son, Koby’s (of blessed memory), death—showing up to class was the first thing on my schedule.
I am engaged in Kabbalah Experience’s fourth year course, Core Awareness. This class takes us up back up the tree of life, exploring polarities, and holding opposites. We are exploring transformative awareness practices, which help us live more mindfully and with greater connection to ourselves and one another.
David started the class with this song by Naomi Shemer—For all these things. While the song is, on the surface, about Israel, it was also reverberating in my heart—holding the bitter and the sweet of life and today, in particular.
Life is a funny thing. This contract we have as living beings…. We are born, not by choice, or because we earned it. We are given this gift of life. We just happened to be a few cells that formed into a human. If we’re lucky, we are formed from an act of love. The more we live, the more we love and build connections with others. And, the more we live– the more we learn that we also lose and have heart break and die. We all die. That’s part of the contract of living, too.
It’s all part of the one-ness. It’s all part of holding opposites.
The holding of opposites is not a paradox. Rather, it is a reflection of this one-ness.
Of light and darkness.
Holiness and brokenness.
What is and what should have been.
What is and what still can be.
What we have, as we hold these opposites- is choice. Life can take our breath away and throw us to our knees. And we can choose how we respond to this pain and uncertainty.
I’ve been thinking about what we learned from Koby. Perhaps that will help inform our healing and our actions:
Some of Koby’s lessons–
- Sing with all your heart.
- Dance with your whole self.
- Share kind words, with sincerity and intention.
- Notice each person.
- Enjoy each and every bite.
- Show up.
- Find things that bring you joy.
- Let your soul shine.
- Be vulnerable. Share your vulnerability.
- Watch ridiculous tv shows. Giggle.
- Retreat when you need to.
- Embrace each moment.
As a parent, I engaged the early years tracking my children’s ‘firsts’—Now when I go through photos, I remember ‘lasts.’ We never knew which month, which Shabbat, which night would be our last together. But we held on fiercely to each of these moments. We surrounded ourselves with people, things, and experiences- we couldn’t avoid the inevitable. But we could choose how we lived while Koby was dying.
We each have choices in how we spend our days.How will you show up today for life? How will you hold these opposites.
Our son, Koby, was born November 21, 2004. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma at the age of 11, on March 24, 2016.
The secular date of Koby’s passing is January 19, 2018, which is associated with the Hebrew date of the 3rd of Shevat. The 3rd of Shevat shows up on the secular calendar this year, on January 25th. In this period of ‘in between’, I encourage you to reflect on his life lessons and do an act of service and loving kindness in Koby’s memory. Please let us know what shows up for you.
For the sake of all these things, Lord,
Let your mercy be complete
Bless the sting and bless the honey
Bless the bitter and the sweet.
Guard for me, oh Lord, these treasures
All my friends keep safe and strong,
Guard the stillness, guard the weeping,
And above all, guard this song.
Video production by Koolalam