The Sweet Jar – Episode 11

(Transcription from Breathing Out Stars podcast – September 2020)

This week has been our holiday:  the beginning of the new year 5781. 

Normally we think of this time of year to reassess who we have been as people. Normally in August —for decades now —I begin thinking about who I have been in the previous year and think about which adjustments I need to make to myself.

For almost twenty-five years now, with our children, we have a tradition at our holiday table —this year on holiday zoom —where we have a jar at the table painted with an apple —to represent the new year, the head of the year. When people arrive they fill out little slips of paper describing sweet things that happened in their life —in our lives —in the previous year.

We call it ‘the sweet jar’. 

Then, during dinner we pass it around the table and read which ever little paper we pick. It is always better if you don’t read your own -and from year to year we can get as many as 2-4 entries for chopped liver. Or vegan chopped liver.

This year we had ‘cute masks’, family time or as we have come to know it —virtual family time – as one has so early in a pandemic.

Things we could not have predicted would make it into this year’s sweet jar last year. And who knows what sweetness will make it into next year’s?

While we are reading the sweet notes, we are dipping apples slices into honey —to wish each other sweetness in the coming year. Because we have always understood that even when there is tragedy and sorrow —there is always sweetness.

This year’s holiday was especially poignant because we were apart, and not even all family members could make it onto the zoom call.

And of course, as we were beginning our dinner, we learned of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Remember in a past episode when I said that when we lose somebody who means something to us —then our best shot is to embody the qualities of theirs that we value the most —and through our hearts and our actions, they will live on within us?

I am going to drop right here that I had a small personal connection to her —and I will always cherish that connection. I was so very honored.

She had said, at one point in her life —when asked about her 56 year marriage —that it is better to be a little deaf. That no one is perfect —and that it helps in a relationship to have faith in the relationship —and if, from time to time an unkind word or brash attitude is shown —to pretend that you hadn’t heard it, lest it distract you from your greater purpose. She implemented this tool not only in her marriage but in her years on the Supreme Court, with her colleagues.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had faith in others —and always strove to repair the small tears in the fabric of society to make things better, to leave things better than when she found them. 

Justice Ginsburg has thrown down the gauntlet for all of us.

And now another story. My mother and my father were both singers. Once —when she was in her later teens, my mom was at a party at her friends’ house. They had this really new technology —a reel-to-reel tape recorder. 

It was super cool, their friends all thought. 

Trying it out at a gathering of friends, my mom sang into the microphone. As they all stood around, the owner of the recorder rewound the tape and began to play it back. From the other room, my father, four years older than most of the other attendees, heard the tape play back. 

All he thought was —‘whose voice is that’? The voice sounded so beautiful to him and he wanted to follow it.

He walked into the room. “Whose voice is that?”, he asked. 

And everyone pointed to my mother. He walked her home that night.

We all, in our lives, will hear a voice that sounds so beautiful to us, a voice that calls to us.  It is hopefully a voice for good —but when we hear it we will want to follow it. We will take steps —even from another room or another place —and we will want to follow the voice.

This voice will take us into our future.

Open your ears and listen hard. 

You are being called.

It is the time.Your community needs you. \Your friends and family need you. Reach out with strength and stability –and the joy of resilience.

Listen to the voice –have faith in each other and begin walking forward. 

The future will pull you forward but deliberately take the steps on your own. I believe in you.

I am not going to lie. These times might be very tough. But I hope —I pray —that you will be able to find some sweetness in it. 

Look for the sweetness wherever you can. Follow the beautiful voice.

Sweet Cake
Give me a drop of honey,
And I will give you the harvest moon.
Give me a silent tear,
And I will give you the roaring sea.
Give me a cup of milk,
And I will give you the rising sun.
Give me your secret prayer,
And I will give you my broken heart.

Give me a drop of honey and we will
Make a feast of this life.
Sweet cake,
To feed ourselves with joy and love.
Sweet cake,
To feed the world with awe and wonder.
Sweet cake,
Of milk and honey.
Sweet cake,
Of prayers and tears.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

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