Show Up and Show You Care
Don’t sell yourself short. Going to that wedding or shiva house does make a real difference.
"I didn't realize until I made my first wedding what a difference each guest makes," a friend commented to me recently. "I'm going to make more of an effort to attend weddings in the future."
Another friend made a similar comment from a different perspective. "When I was sitting shiva for my mother," she told me, "I noticed who came – and, unfortunately for my piece of mind, who didn't. I'm going to try to go more frequently to make a shiva call, even if I'm not particularly close to the mourner."
In our busy and overscheduled lives, we may not have the chance to stop and realize what a difference our presence makes in these situations. We may think they already have a lot of guests or visitors and they won't miss me. But we would be wrong.
Our joy is much greater when we share it and the more people we share it with, the better the feeling! A guest who doesn't turn up robs both the host and him or herself of this opportunity.
Likewise our pain is alleviated when shared. Each visitor to a shiva house removes a small component of the mourner's sorrow. Even if they just sit there silently.
Because we are so busy (or so tired!) we tell ourselves that we don't really matter, that it's not a big deal whether we go or not. We are selling ourselves short. Every individual makes a difference. If they didn't want us there they wouldn't have invited us! And every individual provides their own unique and individual brand of solace and comfort.
As wonderful as a wedding can be, I've heard people moan and groan about their obligation to go. We've lost touch with our sense of gratitude, with what really counts and with how lucky we are to live in a society where weddings are so common and able to occur in an environment of openness and acceptance. We've forgotten how wonderful it is to share someone else's joy. Is it a rational decision to say I've experienced enough joy for today; perhaps I'll try for some more tomorrow?
And, conversely, we've lost touch with how comforting it is to share someone's pain and sorrow, how it deepens our own compassion and how a simple act can mean so much.
Yes, there are times when we just can't make it; we are just too exhausted or we have a prior commitment. But it should never be because we're just too busy and we should never complain about the good our community is experiencing. We should put in that effort to show up, to make a statement that says "I care" and to fully share in the joys (and pains) of our brothers and sisters.
Even if there are (as it said on our community newsletter) five shalom zachars in one Friday night.