Monday, June 10, 2013

An Adventure of Serviam

Yesterday, Sunday 6/9, I co- officiated Erika and Gidon's wedding with Father Marty Hunckler at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Here are the personal remarks I shared with them:

One of the most fascinating books ever written is Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed. In this book, the great rabbi, physician and philosopher of the 12th Century considers the relationship between Greek Philosophy and Jewish Thought. What better starting point for personal remarks at
the wedding of two practitioners in the world of
medicine, who are also contemplative individuals.

One of the interesting things that Erika and Gidon share is the sense that life is and should be considered an adventure. Now, some people hear that word, and imagine a life of abandon, where one throws caution to the wind, but that is not what adventure is about. Adventure is about understanding what is really important, relishing it, and with that living every moment to its fullest.

A great example of this, is the story of Alexander the Great's encounter with Diogenes. The general, whose childhood tutor was that other famous Macedonian, Aristotle, was so excited to meet another renowned philosopher. As he came upon the minimalistic Diogenes, he saw him lying in his sole possession, a barrel, deep in philosophical thought. He told Diogenes who he was, and said that he would give him anything he asked for. Reportedly, Diogenes said he only had one request. If this man who conquered the whole world would not mind, could he move a little, as he was blocking the sun... Legend has it, that Alexander was far from offended, and exclaimed, "If that I was not Alexander, I would be Diogenes!"

Now, of course, and this is the core of Maimonidean Thought, Diogenes leaves out one important element, one well understood by Erika and Gidon. In one of my discussions with Erika and Gidon, Erika talked about an idea she was taught in Catholic school, that still infuses her daily life, and has guided many of her life choices. It is usually summed up in one Latin word, Serviam, to be of service. Maimonides indeed reminds us that contrary to our friend, Diogenes, to live a good life, one cannot live in a barrel. We are called to help others, to serve.

Interestingly, this is not only at the core of Erika's being. She says, with no irony and with this in mind, that Gidon, 100% a Jew, is one of the best Christians she knows. In this, of course, she does not mean a believer in Christianity, rather she means that he lives his life in a manner consistent with this Judeo-Christian idea, that one cannot live a full life, if one is not of service to others.

Erika and Gidon, what we wish for you is that you carry on this great idea. Continue to live your life as the great adventure it can be, while always being of service to others. In this, may you find great happiness, fulfillment, and peace.

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