with our own bodies and our own consciousness,
we are blessed to risk love,
to parent new life,
to create and innovate,
to strive and to rest.
And then, finally, to return to You.
Knowing that the tasks are never completed,
the relationships never simple,
the twists life takes often surprising,
at last we rest in You,
as we once rested in our parents’ loving arms
so long ago.
Oneness from Whom we emerge at birth,
we know that all life flows back to you,
once more united
after the struggles, bruises and delights,
the challenges and aspirations,
the loves, betrayals and affirmations
that make life complex and maddening and sweet.
Grant that our rest be serene.
May our lifelong harvest of love bring You — and those we love — joy.
May our persistent efforts to nurture sustain those we have guided on the way,
and may the sweet scent of that sacrifice please You too
as You gather us in.
for this beautiful planet and our moment awake on its surface,
for life’s fleeting pleasures and abiding connections,
for a heritage wise, ancient and abiding,
for the tasks we completed and for those attempted,
for the loves sustained and ruptured and our friends — whether remembered or forgotten.
For it all — thanks, praise, shalom.
Rabbi Dr Bradley Shavit Artson (www.bradartson.com) holds the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is Vice President of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. A member of the Philosophy Department, he is particularly interested in theology, ethics, and the integration of science and religion. He is also dean of the Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Germany, ordaining Conservative rabbis for Europe.