On Rosh Hashanah two years ago my wife Jessica and I were reminded - by a five year old - of one of life's important lessons.
We were walking home from shul, newly minted members of Temple Beth Am, and noticed the following scene unfold: three generations - grandmother, mother and daughter - walking up to a house which did not seem to fit with the rest of the neighborhood. The house looked run-down and ordinary amidst the much nicer homes on the block. While the mother walked slowly arm in arm with the grandmother, the little girl with bright eyes and big rimmed glasses ran up to the house a few paces ahead.
With outstretched arms, she proudly exclaimed, seemingly to the entire world, "Look at this beautiful door!" And sure enough, with a fresh coat of white paint and a charming stained glass window, it was indeed beautiful! Upon viewing the house initially, we saw only what looked broken, unkempt and out of place. We failed to see what was right about the house: its big, shiny, beautiful door. The mother looked at the two of us and mimed that her daughter talks and talks and talks (we all know the hand gesture). But on that day and in that moment, Jessica and I were awestruck at the significance of the little girl's observation.
Not only did she see the beauty in an otherwise ordinary house, but she proudly called it out to the world, to all who were there to hear it. We have adopted her proclamation as a motto, a clarion call to see the good in everything and everyone, to give our loved ones, our colleagues, our fellow humans the benefit of the doubt. And not only should we strive to see the positive attributes in all, but once we find them, we must verbalize and bring them to light. Furthermore, we can gain wisdom from anyone, old and young, in this case a 5-year-old girl. Jessica and I remind each other often to always "look for the beautiful door."