Lives of many uses

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Upon entering and leaving White Mountain National Forest, there is a fantastic phrase on the landmark. It reads, “Land of Many Uses.” Apparently this is used in other national parks as well. While I appreciate the vast opportunities to enjoy the wealth of beauty and nature, it made me think about our lives: The Lives of Many Uses.

Each of us has so many obvious as well as hidden talents. Are you on an active search to discover these? How do you utilize your skills? Do you make the most of the gifts you have? Do you work to discover new strengths and proficiencies? What lies undiscovered beneath the recesses of your mind, heart and soul?

Furthermore, we are never stagnant. We are constantly in motion learning and growing, discovering and becoming. How do we present these hidden talents and what can we make of them? What would your curriculum vitae say about your essence? What are the talents that make you, you? 

What would your sign of many uses list? Would you have a pathway to a hidden lake untouched by pollution? Would your trails be strewn with logs, leaves and tree roots, or would your paths be clear and unobstructed? Would they be lined with ancient trees with leaves acting as shelter, or would the sun shine through? 

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I imagine our many uses would be filled with opportunities to help others as well as ourselves. Our many uses would have moments to sing and dance, weep and grieve. Why not pause, take a moment — as long as you need — and write a list of your many gifts, both hidden and apparent. Like our national parks, you must be appreciated and cared for in a sacred way.