Psalm 118

I shall not die but live and proclaim the works of Adonai. (118:17)

There is a difference between “not dying” and “living.” In this last Psalm of Hallel, whose purpose is to express our joy at the fact that we have survived to celebrate another festival, the Psalmist reminds us that merely surviving is not enough. I have met people who have given up on living their lives while they are still alive. They believe that:

  • “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” There is no point in reading, learning, studying, or challenging their assumptions because they have decided their mind is made up and nothing will change it.
  • “I tried that years ago and I didn’t like it.” Whether it is food or another kind of experience, if I didn’t like it last time I tried it or even if I have never tried it, now is not the time to start trying something new.
  • “I think of nothing but my aches and pains … let me tell you about them.” An aging body hurts and I am not minimizing the sometimes considerable pain. However, telling and retelling the story of pain leaves one trapped in a cycle of perpetually measuring one’s body for death.
  • “I’m bored. There is nothing to do. I’m lonely. I don’t go anywhere.” Sometimes we make choices and sometimes our declining physical ability makes the choice for us. However, within the circle in which we are able to live, we have the choice either to complain about the things that are happening outside of the circle of our lives, or to live to the boundaries as best we can.

Those who truly lives their lives believe in:

  • Learning new things
  • Trying new foods and new experiences
  • Looking for meaningful ways to fill up their days (volunteering), and
  • Finding a reason every day to be grateful.

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