When we promise to behave in a certain way, to keep a confidence, to support or assist someone with a project, or to care for them as part of a family or community, the expectation is that the promise will be kept. We learn to trust one another by keeping promises, by holding true to our relationships and by standing alongside one another in good and bad times. The breaking of a promise, no matter how small, can lead to the start of distrust. This distrust can grow by the behavior surrounding the broken promise, by continued breaking of promises or through lack of support. Once distrust has set in, it is very difficult to turn it around.
Sarah, our matriarch, is recognized as someone whose spiritual tree bore fruit long after her physical body had left the earth. Her nurture and love of her fellow beings left a legacy we strive to emulate. When we water and feed our fruit, hold true to our promises, take care of our friends, colleagues and loved ones, we build a future based on trust and promise. When we cut the branches early to display the fruit before it ripens, break our promises, breach the trust of those we love, those who look to us for guidance and support, we destroy the hope of a future trusting relationship.
Nurturing our children, supporting them through the tough times, celebrating with them and keeping those promises, models true love and trust. Trust, which builds strong, spiritual and loving relationships lasting far into the future.
This article is dedicated to the incredible recovery of Heather Whitney and her loving family.
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.