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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

How A Faithful Dad Gained A Healthy Perspective and Counts His Blessings

Updated: Apr 12

Guest Post by Cantor Rick Lawrence


In May of 2022, I moved to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. My wife, a pediatrician,

started a global health fellowship eight months prior at Princess Marina Hospital. Now

that I had finished my chaplaincy training, I was moving out to support her, volunteer as a

chaplain for the same hospital, and prepare to start a family together.


When training to be a chaplain, I had only seen adult patients and their families. However, at Princess Marina I was connected to the palliative care teams for both adults and kids, meaning I was seeing people who were receiving end-of-life care. I made a point to visit all the kids in the ward, whether or not they were in palliative care, because I could only imagine what these families were going through.


Once I started visiting families, it was clear they were going through a lot. I counseled families who were struggling to hold it together while attempting to keep an oxygen mask on their premature babies, hoping enough air was getting into their underdeveloped lungs. I sat with mothers who weren’t sure their children could go to South Africa to receive the care they needed. Many parents shared with me how they would pray late at night, one of the few times where there was a semblance of peace and quiet. They cherished these precious moments when the rest of the world was asleep. I didn’t understand it at the time, but that would soon change.


Our daughter was born in late September, only a couple days after her due date. Most importantly, both my wife and our daughter were healthy and safe. The day after she was born, our daughter was feeling awful because of some vaccines. My wife hadn’t slept in days and was starting to break down. After talking with a pediatrician (because every pediatrician parent needs another pediatrician), we gave our baby some Tylenol which gave her the relief to fall asleep on my chest. In those wee hours of the late night/early morning, I started to understand what those mothers were telling me before.


I have gotten worried over the smallest things about our baby girl. “Is she getting enough sleep?” “Is she eating okay?” “We can’t spend too much time out in the sun or she’ll get early skin cancer!” “We can’t go out right now, we won’t be back in time for her nap!”


In those moments, I strive to reflect on what the patient families have told me during visits. They've expressed their worries to me. At the same time, I've looked around and said, “Now that I’m a parent myself, I’m concerned for other parents whose children are in worse shape than mine.”


They remind me to have a healthy sense of perspective. It is because of this perspective that my favorite prayer in Jewish liturgy is Asher Yatzar. This prayer is frequently said after using the bathroom, although in proper Jewish tradition Rabbis have debated over whether or not a person needs to say this if they have only urinated.


Here is the prayer, followed by my translation:


Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam,

asher yatzar et ha’adam b’chochmah, uvara vo

n’kavim n’kavim, chalulim chalulim. Galui

v’yaduah lifnei chisei ch’vodecha, sh’im

yipateach

echad meihem, oh yisateim echad meihem, ee

efshar l’hitkayeim v’la’amod l’fanecha, afilu

sha’ah echat. Baruch atah adonai, rofei

chol basar, umafli la’asot.


We recognize you are a God of blessing and rule over our world. [You are the

one] who thoughtfully made all people and made in them nooks and crannies. It is

revealed and known before your throne of glory that if one of [the closings] were to

open, or if one of [the openings] were to close, it would be impossible to get up and

stand before you, even for one hour. We recognize you are a God of blessing, [you

who] heals all flesh and works wonders.


This prayer helps me not take my health or the health of my loved ones for granted. I think it can be powerful to be grateful for all the little things, even something as simple as using the bathroom.



 

DADDYING FILM FEST CALL FOR ENTRIES

JUST 4 DAYS LEFT TO SUBMIT ON FILMFREEWAY!



Attention all Dads/Dad figures, 1st-grade through college undergrad students, and other indie filmmakers, the 2024 D3F Call for Entries DEADLINE IS NEXT MONDAY, APRIL 15th! That means there's just a few more days for you to possibly join our amazing and growing lineup of Official Selections by creating and submitting your own film or video – even if it's just a 1- or 2-minute TikTok or Instagram video! We're looking for more heartfelt stories that reflect what being or having an involved dad means to you and/or your child(ren).


Visit the D3F website for more award details, submission guidelines, and Atticus Award-winning examples from previous years. Or head directly to our FilmFreeway page to submit your films, videos, and music videos celebrating the importance of having or being an involved Dad or Dad figure:



SUBMIT BY APRIL 15th


 

Cantor Rick Lawrence is the father of his 6-month-old daughter, Zipporah. He earned his B.A. in Jewish Studies at Oberlin College, a certificate in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University, and Masters of Jewish Education and Cantorial Ordination from Hebrew College. Cantor Lawrence has worked with the Zamir Chorale of Boston and HaZamir Children's Choir Cleveland Chapter. During his cantorial studies, Cantor Lawrence studied how previous composers of Jewish music have taken the musical tradition that they received from previous generations and blended it with contemporary musical styles. In keeping with this tradition, he has composed music mixing traditional music with contemporary styles for Shabbat worship. Cantor Lawrence began Chaplaincy training in 2019, and finished in 2022. He currently serves as the volunteer Chaplain for the pediatric and adult palliative care teams at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, Botswana. Starting in July of 2024, he will be the Cantor of Temple Emanuel, as well as the director of the United Jewish School, located in Grand Rapids Michigan.

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