When people tell me things are not going so well, I have a few books I like to lend them. One is a book by Robert A Alper, Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This.
Robert is a Rabbi and Stand up Comedian, from Vermont. There are lots of lovely stories in Robert’s book, but I want to pick out the Chapter on ‘The Man Who Was Not Religious.’
The story is real, it was the time of Martin Luther King’s assassination and Robert was in Washington D C to see how, as a Rabbi Intern, he could help the local community. He met a guy who was trying to get the devastated area back on its feet, as riots had destroyed much of the community assets, though also, usefully, the liquor stores.
Robert called a local businessman and although he did not know him he asked for furniture for the community volunteers.
– His answer was abrupt. “Sure. Come over and pick what out what you need.”
And just as quickly he changed the subject. –
They talked about religion, and the man said, “But you know, I don’t attend services very often. I’m not religious.”
– “I’m not religious.” A thirty second request from a stranger and the man was willing to donate furniture to an unknown activist –
And when the man was asked how they would get the furniture to the volunteers’ office the man said “We’ll deliver it. Just stop by and pick out what you need.”
A few of the titles of the Chapters tell you what the book is like, ‘Holding, Loving, and Letting Go’, ‘Moments of Connection’, ‘The Blink of an Eye’, ‘What Really Matters’, ‘A Child Comes Home’, ‘The Glance’, ‘Choosing a Different Path’, ‘Gerda’s Gift’ and many more.
Alper reminds us that life isn’t easy, but for everyone, including those who are ‘not religious’, life is full of the holiest of moments, not only on Sundays, not only with people we know, not only on the good days, but also on the bad days.
Alper reminds us that no matter how bad things seem, somewhere there is someone who has it worse than you and is still smiling. If you think you haven’t enough money, someone has less, and values it more. If you think you haven’t enough friends, someone has fewer, but values them more. If you think life isn’t good enough, then the message is very clear, Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This, because actually, it is truly wonderful.