WHM Board President’s New Year’s Reflections


Happy New Year!

As I approach my 73rd life milestone, I realize how finite a space we occupy on the time continuum. I don’t know how far back “time” goes, nor do I know how far into the future it extends. I only know that I was here yesterday and that I am here today. That said, arrival of the New Year is an ideal time to reflect on the past, to consider the present, and to imagine the future. With this in mind, permit me to share a few personal thoughts on the past, present, and future.

The Past

My reflections of the past, perhaps in an offbeat way, drew me to think about events that shook my emotions. While many events over the course of my lifetime are buried in the depths of my memory, images of three (3) immediately popped up:

• 1963 – The loss of President John F. Kennedy
• 2001 – The losses incurred from the 9/11 attacks
• 2023 – The loss of Lahaina

These events brought sorrow, anger, frustration, and simply challenged our human spirit. While not at the forefront of daily news cycles, these occurrences also demonstrated that there absolutely exists, good in humanity. At each event, we found ourselves on common ground of grief and uncertainty. Each time, we saw our fellow men, women and children sharing the gift of Dana or selfless giving to sooth and comfort in ways only limited by our imagination. Reflecting on the past allows us to reaffirm that there is good in life, despite adverse circumstances that may have disrupted our daily journeys.

The Present

The New Year is also a time to express gratitude for all that we have today…not necessarily items of a material nature, but life occurrences that bring a response of peace, harmony and joy. Whatever our life stage and despite what may seem to be the ordinariness of daily living, each new day holds some condition or circumstance within which gratitude lies. Perhaps you’ve experienced some of these:
• Stayed up late; math and history tests today…grateful to meet friends afterwards
• Kids yelling; chaotic breakfast; multiple soccer games today…grateful to see that their night’s sleep is peaceful and sound
• Car in the shop; kitchen plumbing leaks; a nasty email at work…grateful for a quiet dinner with my spouse
• Back aches; not much energy today; another doctor’s appointment…grateful for that short morning walk down the street Moments in each day exists for us to encounter gratitude. Make time to find those moments.

The Future

The New Year is a time to look towards the future. It is a time to reset, a time to dream and to consider possibilities. As I close in on my 73rd year, my view of the future is framed in the context of our Shin Buddhist reality of impermanence. While more limited, life at 73 is still full of possibilities and still full of Dana opportunities.

Quite honestly though, the future I more often think about is that of my children’s and grandchildren’s generations. Information and misinformation overloads make life complicated. Despite these complexities, I do trust that generations which follow, will find their way to lessons of the past and present. First, while the good in humanity visibly shows up in times of disaster or tragedy; it has always been, and always will be, a fundamental part of our human identity. Second, no matter how ordinary today may be, gratitude lies waiting to be uncovered.

Recognizing the good and finding that gratitude leads us to a path of kindness and compassion. That kindness and compassion will bring much needed balance to a world oftentimes occupied by greed and anger.

As the Community Temple, we are here to serve both temple members and non-members alike. We are today, a 21st century organization