I just had a flashback from nearly seven years ago – of a memory that’s been tucked away, but today became prominent when my son and I reminisced about life altering experiences, and this particular one came to mind.
In 2007 we were fortunate enough to go as a family to Germany and spend some time with my in-laws in a small, historic village, called Michelstadt. My father-in-law happens to be a very gifted, beloved and world renowned concert pianist, who annually gives of himself to Chair global classical music competitions and teach students from around the world not just about music, but more so, if they listen to him closely, about what passion can inspire.
The truth is, one doesn’t really need to be a musician to be inspired by him — because his teachings don’t only encapsulate music, but more so, empathy, insight and a whole lot of heart. But that’s another blog…
On this particular trip, the learnings were more for Jacob (though we got the benefit of being a part), and he was shown less of “what,” and more of “why.”
While my in-laws were in Michelstadt for a good portion of the summer, our few days taught us history, appreciation for our heritage, and the ability to get to know people from another part of the world that now have a connection within our hearts. We had come to hear a special performance my father-in-law was to give to the town, but we left feeling fulfilled from what the town had given us — a warmth and connection that included my son, who was 11 at the time, signing the “Golden Book” which is held by the town Mayor and has been in existence for hundreds of years.
But the even more meaningful part for me, was a visit to the grave of the Baal Shem Tov of Michelstadt — the Rabbi that was known throughout Europe to be a miracle worker, through his compassionate advice and listening heart, and the guy that to this day, thousands come to visit while seeking solitude, respect and good wishes for themselves and their family.
And while the meaning of this true Baal Shem Tov is inspirational and a part of my spiritual belief, what sticks to me is the desire within us to find that listener and thought provoker, and how very fortunate I am to have my very own “Baal Shems” in my life right now…those with compassion and honesty and true friendship – the one’s I can count on even if our paths cross at less consistent moments.
We all have times of need…times of indecision, of doubt and also of jubilance… though sometimes it’s the former that seems to remain more constant…For me, without those key individuals that offer their ears and hearts to me, through the good and the bad, my world would be greatly remiss. While those of a higher source, such as the Baal Shem Tov, can bring a deep comfort to many, it is my team of encouraging compadres that make my life complete. Those that have brought me the balance which inspires me to find at least one good thing in each day – even the difficult ones.
As 2013 comes toward a close, it would be easy to point out the disappointments I’ve faced and the elements of change I’ve encountered within – but it’s also been a year of promise and learning and growth. A year of strength that I’ve given myself, but could have never done were it not for the “Baal Shems” in my life, giving me the encouragement to stop and smell the roses and seek the ability to be in the moment.
This extended crew offers me hope every day, whether we connect or not, for their words of encouragement go deep and are not forgotten.
I am grateful for this and so much more – the realization that everyone needs a Baal Shem Tov — and in return, each should become one for another.