One of the biggest surprises for a new parent is realizing how much their parents loved them and what unconditional love actually means when they first hold their child. That love is a true gift from the heart. It holds promise and commitment. It whispers nurture and security.
When we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and holidays, we give material gifts. We carefully consider these gifts, research the prices and quality, think about their usefulness and value and take pride in sharing something we’ve chosen for someone we care about.
Sometimes we surprise a recipient with a gift. We may pay for coffee for someone behind us, drop off a bunch of flowers at a friend who’s having a tough time, pick up the tab for a meal at a restaurant or even send an air ticket to a relative who needs a vacation. These heartfelt gifts represent our caring for others and make the world a better place, in some small but significant way.
So it was when a new Muslim friend recently gifted me with her beautiful bracelet that I had commented on. She took it off her wrist and shared this gift from her heart, showing me that with love we can achieve almost anything. We were discussing ways to build community, to encourage interaction between our two cultures and to reinforce what a wonderful world we live in together. It reminded me that if we are committed to making the world a better place, peace is possible. If we care for one another, we can learn to live side by side, respecting each other’s differences, celebrating our cultures and ethnicities and sharing our material treasures—building bridges, one heartbeat at a time.
Sue Penn is the mother of three, Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, president of Jewish Reconstructionist Educators of North America and a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly.