A sermon asks: ‘Who is sitting at your table?’
Calming words after deadly freeway crash claimed 4 lives
Like so many others, I was heartbroken when I heard about the four Minnesota teens killed in a car accident near Alexandria recently. They were traveling back to NDSU. They had almost made it. They were about 100 miles from the campus when the accident happened.
When something like this happens, I think we all take a time out and think ‘Whoa.’ I know I did. It forces you to take time to pause and reflect. It made me think about those young women and their families. It made me grateful for my family and friends.
Yet, I can’t get my head around the grief that those girls’ families are going through. Four vibrant, beautiful lives gone in a blink of an eye. That kind of grief would be hard to overcome, and it made me think about a sermon I had read by Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic.
He was talking about facing obstacles, especially the hard-to-overcome ones. Who do you turn to? He commented that over the years, as he loses more and more people, that grief has become a very real, physical thing. And while it feels unbearable at times, we must bear the unbearable and go on and live….trying to be happy despite the depressing and crushing feelings. The Rabbi said one of his ways to cope, is to go to “the table in your head”.
He basically asks, “Who’s sitting at your table?” Picture yourself at a dinner table with all of your most beloved people. These people can be anyone — family members or very close friends. They can be alive, or dead. “They are the people, whether they still walk this earth or not, who are the most important in your life, and if you could have an hour or an evening and you could be with all of them, all at once, who would be sitting there?”
When the times get tough, go and sit at this table in your head. It actually acts as an exercise, and can clarify who is really important to you. In my wealth management business, I am a big believer in training and exercises, for both business and the game of life. I love this exercise, and I think it’s a good one to think about…not only with grief, but with other challenging times, as well. How many folks would you have at your table?
When I envision mine, I have around 12 sitting at the table with me. Perhaps some of us might be a little surprised with who is sitting at our table. Sometimes it’s people we never met (i.e.: Abraham Lincoln), or perhaps that one grandparent that paid us special attention when we were children. How about the ones sitting at our table that are still alive and with us? Do we really know them? Do we know about all their hopes and dreams, and are we helping? How is our relationship with that person right now? Are we really paying attention like we should?
There’s a story that the Rabbi told towards the end of his sermon. “There was an old man who was going through all the boxes in his attic and he found photo albums and diaries. He looked at one of his diaries, and in his own neat handwriting were the words: ‘June 4th. Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn’t catch a thing.’ He then saw his son Jimmy’s diary from the same year, when Jimmy was only six years old, and something made him look up the same date. Large, scrawling letters pressed deeply in the paper read: ‘June 4th. Went fishing with my Dad. Best day of my life.’
I think that story hits the point home. I sure don’t want to be that old man, who could only look back and think ‘why didn’t I pay attention to the moment?’
And the moments can be fleeting…think of the families of those teenage girls. I’m sure they never, in a million years, thought they would outlive their children. But I hope they can find that table, and that it helps with the grief that must be dealt with. From what I have read about those girls…so talented, vibrant and full of potential, I know they are sitting at many tables, as they touched so many lives.
Writer David Purdy is president of Wealth Management Midwest in Forest Lake. Securities offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. For comments or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions voiced are for general information and not intended to provide specific advice. Consult a financial planner prior to investing.