My friend Michele Cushat wrote a book a few years ago called Undone. She said “undone is beautiful.” That is, we can find beauty and hope even through the brokenness and struggles of life.
A wedding ceremony I performed a few years ago reminded me of this truth. The bride was a friend of friend. She called to tell me that she was engaged. They had a wedding date set for the following June. Would I be available? Sure, I replied.
But, there’s more, she said softly. My mom is dying. She has pancreatic cancer. She insists we not change our plans for the big ceremony in June. But, she asked, could I come to her hospital room and perform a wedding ceremony. Her mom would have a chance to see them married.
Of course, I said. We set a date. When the time came, I went over to the hospital. I wore my usual office attire: a striped button down shirt, grey pants, loafers.
When I got to the hospital room, I quickly realized my error The bride stood outside the room in her wedding gown. The groom beamed next to her in a tuxedo.
At least twenty-five friends in suits, ties, dresses, make up, crowded the hospital room. They stood around the mom’s bed.
A hospital worker had brought in an electric keyboard and began playing. Four men brought in a canopy covered in flowers. The bride and groom entered to music and song.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I had trouble beginning the ceremony. We succeeded, however, in getting through it. By the end, there was not a dry eye in the room. The applauses bristled with a mixture of joy and sadness, hope and pain.
We knew life had just given us a rare moment of beauty amidst tragedy. About three weeks later the bride’s mom passed away.
The bride did not have to do what she did. She could have remained angry at life, distancing herself from feelings of love and commitment because of what happened to the person she loved most dearly.
Jewish tradition, however, offers us the opposite view. We take life seriously because it is uncertain. Life’s uncertainties make it all the more precious and valuable.
You will find more ways of experiences those precious and valuable moments in The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today. It’s the first book to explore Jewish teachings on happiness for people of all faiths, and it just became available for pre-order.