A favorite song to accompany brides down the wedding aisle is the Beatles’ “In My Life.” It’s a song about the past meeting the present. It’s a song about how the singer has been formed by all his past experiences in life.
Consider the lyrics: “There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better. Some have gone, and some remain. All these places had their moments. With lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some our dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.”
The Journey of Love
Of course, the point of the song is that all those experiences pale in comparison to the feeling of love he has now. Yet, part of the beauty and attraction of the song for many is the recognition that we are the result of our experiences in life. They shape us. They never leave.
As Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Our lives are journeys shaped by the roads we have taken.
The Journey of Faith
Now in the Beatles song, the goal, the end point of the journey, is love of a particular person. For people of faith, the goal of the journey is a life of growth, of wisdom, of love of knowledge, truth and humanity. Ultimately, the goal is to learn and live by God’s ways, which, as the prophet Micah put it, are “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god.”
This journey can be difficult. Like the ancient Israelites, we have to wander for many many years. And the longer we wander, the more we realize how far we still have to go.
This notion is captured in the recollection Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the great rabbis of the nineteenth century: “When I was young,” he said, “I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world did not change. So I tried to change my town, but my town did not change. Then I turned to my family, but my family did not change. Then I realized: first I must change myself: and I am still trying.”
So are we all.
By Evan Moffic
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