I have spent this past week with my dad in the hospital dealing with the first part of what is sure to be a long process for him toward health. At first, during his stay, he wasn’t allowed to eat anything. Then he had no appetite and didn’t want to eat anything. And now he’s not allowed to eat anything again. It’s amazing how all of the sudden, a sip of apple juice feels like a giant victory.
It’s odd that the timing is such that I have been visiting the hospital during the days leading up to the Trump Presidency. It seems every few minutes I get another email about a protest, a march, or a petition. I usually pay close attention to such things, but the influx of emails have diminished in their importance to me as my family faces more personal challenges. I deleted most of them. However, one email in particular did catch my eye.
T’ruah, an organization of Rabbis who stand up for human rights, is organizing communities to fast today, Inauguration Day, as a way for us to follow the Jewish ideas to fast in one’s personal distress or to fast on behalf of one’s community. It’s an interesting idea, but I must say it is difficult for me to imagine fasting while all we wish for these days is for my father to be able to eat. Here I am grateful for every morsel that passes his lips, and it seems so odd in this moment to fast while others (because of illness or poverty) are hoping for a single bite.
In fact, I’m feeling grateful for many little things these days. Yes, of course the ability to eat and drink, but even when I went to the bathroom the other day I found myself saying thanks (and did you know there is a Jewish blessing for that?) for the ease. I find I’m grateful I can walk with my mother to the hospital. I’m grateful I am not too cold or too hot. I’m grateful I am able to sleep (even if not very well). I’m grateful I’m not in pain. After all, I have spent several days surrounded by people who aren’t as lucky as all that right now. I owe it to them to notice these moments.
So, I think fasting this Friday isn’t going to be my plan. But instead I am going to be grateful for all of those bodily functions I usually take for granted and do my best to pause and say a prayer of thanks for actions such as using the bathroom, walking, eating and sleeping. And I’m going to be thankful for a few more things too… Like my right to either support or protest our new President, my right to sign petitions, to speak up, and to fight for what I believe in. Then I think I’ll send some money to organizations like T’ruah, Planned Parenthood or HIAS who fight the battles dearest to me, and I’ll think about how I can help beyond my wallet.
Today, I invite you to fast or not. Donate or not. Protest or not. But no matter what we choose to do, let’s be grateful if we are physically, mentally and spiritually strong enough to stand up for each other and for those whose voices may have been silenced.
Our work begins.
Shalom to all on this Inauguration Day Shabbat.