After services each Saturday morning I hang out and talk, share a


, and eventually make it to the


lunch table. Several people graciously volunteer their time every week to provide us with a fabulous lunch so we can prolong our shared Shabbat time. We eat together, often getting to know different people, talk and laugh,


then reluctantly part company.

It's rare that we run out of food but it does happen occasionally, especially to those of us who consistently make it to the table late. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I turned to ask someone if we'd run out of food. His answer? "Yes, but I have food at home."

I've thought about that simple statement for two weeks now. I'm not sure if he intended that sentence to mean anything other than what it appeared to be on the surface - that is, that running out of food didn't matter because he could eat at home.

For me, though, it was a powerful reminder that we should tune into what's most valuable at any given moment of our lives.

My dad bought the house I grew up in, for example, for $2,000. He was a coal miner and he spent pretty much all of his other time working additional jobs, building onto and fixing up our home, and loving his family in every way. My mom worked full-time and sewed clothes for me. Sometimes she and my dad made me elaborate birthday and holiday gifts that really were exactly what I wanted. Together, my parents made sure I had everything I needed. I never realized that other people were better off financially. My parents only talked about - and helped - all the ones who were worse off, and because of that, those were also the only people I ever noticed.

In addition, beyond our necessities, my parents simply didn't care that much about money. We saved for an annual vacation, but evenings and weekends were filled with local trips to state parks and lakes, riding the ferry, Sunday drives in the country (anyone remember


), berry picking, playing games with large groups of friends, and afternoons at our grandparents or cousins... our lives were incredibly rich.

Mom and Dad instilled religious and spiritual values and ethics in me.

I never had to ask if I could have friends over, even for the entire night. My friends were always welcome, and my parents loved having them. Some nights my room would barely fit all the teenagers in, and although we undoubtedly kept Mom and Dad up all night with our relentless trips to the kitchen for snacks, they never once complained.

Through their example, they taught me what matters in life.

And that's what that simple sentence a couple of weeks at shul reminded me of. And while I'm certainly grateful I don't have to wait until 2 or 3pm on Saturday to eat lunch, my friend is right. There's food at home. The two hours I have to talk and laugh with those I've just prayed with are what matters.

As we move into the High Holy Days, make it a point to assess what matters at any given moment. And sink your teeth into