Lately a lot of people have said to me that my kids are so grown up. They’ve made a transformation. I love these comments, because I usually feel it’s commentary on the transformation my daughters, Aria and Kira, are going through and I appreciate that someone took the time to notice under the wing of this community, that my kids are growing up.
I find myself also noticing this in other people’s children as well- they’ve grown so tall or changed so much. I wonder why we feel the need to say out loud what we notice. Is this something we see in that child, are we feeling something about ourselves, or is it both? In general, it is a compliment to say your children are growing up, they are tall or they are changing; even if our children have no idea why people are always commenting on this.
Another funny comment I get is that I look the same as I did when I came to KI almost 20 years ago. I love you all for saying this, and I will take any compliment that comes my way, but I am pretty sure the distance from the bimah is keeping me looking younger than I am!
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, Jacob makes a transformation after struggling with an angel, and to mark his transformation he is called a new name- Israel. I think all of us need a new name post-COVID, and it should be a name that embodies all we have learned, how we’ve struggled, and how we see the world. I do wonder what would happen if we started commenting on the transformations we’ve made spirituality instead of physically. These things are harder to see and even express to someone.
We can recognize our physical transformations whether it is a child growing up or the strength that we find to overcome a health challenge by noting physical appearance. We can also note each other’s spiritual, physical and emotional transformations by saying- you are “Israel” too. You are someone who has struggled and overcome. You are singing more loudly at services. You are coming more often, and participating in meaningful activities. You are connecting with community or someone you haven’t connected with for various reasons. Choose a transformation to recognize in yourself and choose a transformation to recognize in someone else.
When we distinguish change we begin to see the holiness in the world and in others. I’m thankful to be part of a community that always recognizes the changes happening in our lives, and I pray you embrace the value of noticing transformation.