Reverberations: Thoughts for the Month of Elul


I opened Facebook the other day and saw the official announcement that Zen Hospice Project Guest House was closed. The carpets were rolled up. The furniture had been removed. The house is almost ready to sell.

The staff at Zen Hospice was so caring and compassionate. The Threshold Choir sang bedside there twice a week, adding to the clients’ comfort during their last days on earth. This hospice was a model of what hospice could be, but, alas, their funding was private and had dried up. I read the sad comments on this post, and also felt sad, but at the same time I thought about the reverberations that would permanently continue to resonate from anyone who had been witness to the special care provided here.

This is the Jewish month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; traditionally a time for self-reflection and change. As I thought about the reverberations of the now-closed Zen hospice I felt compelled to remember other instances that continue to inspire me to be a better person. To keep this short, I’ll share just three.

  1. I belong to the Threshold Choir, a choir that trains people to provide comfort by singing bedside. The rehearsal circle meets once per week to practice our songs. The culture of this group is a model of how people can relate to each other in community. We arrive to many hugs of welcome. We are kindly led by several rotating song leaders to work diligently on perfecting our singing. When we sing bedside in groups of three or four, the leaders have an uncanny sensitivity to the needs of the individual patient and choose songs appropriately. I am not a naturally warm and fuzzy person, but I am being inspired by the culture of this choir, to connect more with others in a warm way.
  2. I will always remember and be inspired by my almost 4-year-old grandson when he apologized to a friend of his. We all know that it can be difficult to admit that we were wrong and make amends. The next time I need to apologize to someone, the image of B, bending down and looking his friend in the eye and saying, “I’m sorry I yelled at you” will be there.
  3. Twenty-five years ago I was invited to a dinner at the parents home of a co-worker. The entire evening was so pleasant and comfortable for everyone. My co-worker’s father served the dinner in the most gracious, loving way. I continue to work on emulating his graciousness. He served one dinner that continues to affect my thoughts and behavior, even after 25 years!

As I reflect during this month of Elul and during these trying times I am committed to remember and foster these reverberating moments.


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