By Daphne Price
I recently went through the pictures on my digital camera, reviewing the snapshots of the summer: Birthday parties, fun at the pool, days at Sesame Place, summer barbecues and an afternoon at the local butterfly exhibit. On that particular day, my girls dressed in bright colors hoping that a butterfly would land on an outstretched arm or an open palm. In their little girl ways, they tried to coax these fragile butterflies to fly closer, and to make contact, but the butterflies just fluttered by.
And then I came upon my favorite snapshot of all: We were planning to leave. My girls were disappointed, but agreed to pose for a picture, the little one standing in front of my older one. Suddenly, a gorgeous butterfly landed on the little one’s bright yellow headband. She was completely unaware, and the wondrous expression on my older one’s face as she looked on was priceless.
All afternoon they stood, outstretched arms, patient and waiting – and what felt like out of nowhere, and without one of them even realizing it, their wish was granted. I marveled at the time that I was able to capture the moment. But just now, looking at this picture, I was reminded of the passage in Psalms (145:16) that many read several times of day: “Poteach et yadecha u'masbia le'chol chai ratzon" – You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing’s desire.
So many of us spend so much time preparing for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. We will say and do all the right things. We will dress in our new clothes, and make our way to our synagogue where we will wait and listen to the call of the shofar. We will pray for a sweet, happy and healthy year. We will review this past year and pledge to renew our efforts in the coming year to do better – to be better – for our families, our communities and ourselves. Indeed, we will stand, some of us literally, and others of us more figuratively, with outstretched arms, palms open, waiting for the blessings we so badly want bestowed upon us and our loved ones. And just like in the photo, some of us will see the rewards of our efforts before our very eyes. Others will be blessed without even knowing it. And then of course there is the category of people who will be faced with enormously difficult challenges, the gift of the blessing will be hard, or even impossible to see – or it might be so fragile and fleeting that we might miss it altogether. But it is on us to make the effort, to be patient and to wait with outstretched arms, palms open, to nudge the goodness along.
As I reflect back to that brief moment at the butterfly exhibit and I remember those words describing G-d’s open hand, satisfying every living creature’s desire, I realize that I need to do my own due diligence, with my own outstretched arms – whether it is in forgiving someone, or being forgiven myself for some wrong. Whether it is committing to a life of better habits, and quitting some others, or even just changing my attitude to think more positively, ultimately, it is on me – and on all of us to be open to countless possibilities – to butterflies and blessings.