I am not calm.
Like all of you, I’m a mess… facing the possibility of school closures, trying to figure out what to do at Cool Shul, and trying to help my kids whose sports and speech and debate seasons are over, with a senior wondering if she is going to get to have a graduation. I know some of you are planning Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, graduations, or weddings, and now everything is up in the air. It is understandable if you feel nervous and uncomfortable about health or simply about all of this uncertainty.
So, let’s take a deep breath together (well, virtually together), and see if we can create some calm in this storm.
I talked to my class of middle schoolers yesterday about the fact that many traditions acknowledge an aspect of light within dark and vice-versa. In our prayer book, we thank the universe for the coming of day AND the coming of night. We acknowledge these cycles, and understand there is no light without dark. My rabbinical buddy, Walter, always said in class, “Don’t be so sure dark is all bad — there is magic in the stars and beauty in the unknown.” So, here we are, definitely dealing with a time in history some may label as “dark,” but it is our job as spiritual beings to find the magic in the dark, and uncover the light shining through as stars.
So, yesterday, I asked my students what light we could create from this scary time. Here is what we came up with:
- Appreciate the little things.
- Be less stressed about small problems
- Although it sounds “fun” if school is closed, enjoy the parts you love because you will actually miss school if you can’t go.
- Hope that medical advancements that come from this will help generations to come.
- Hope that new habits such as washing hands and being respectful of other peoples’ space lasts so that we will have better health for our lifetimes and teach this to our children.
Our challenge is for ourselves and for our children, to go find the light. If you must be at home for awhile, enjoy the simple pleasures of curling up on the couch, snuggling with the family, watching a dumb movie you never would watch under normal circumstances. Step into your yard or your balcony, or even just open the window (they say fresh air is good!) and breathe in the freshness. Enjoy the spot of sun coming through and touching your face. Pet your dogs, your cats, your birds, your chinchillas, whatever pets you may have, and allow the natural stress relief wash over you of caring for them. If you live alone (or not), find a neighbor or friend to chat with, maybe even invite them for a cup of tea (as long as everyone feels healthy!). Laugh together, and feel what laughter can do to relieve worry. And when you catch yourself finding relief in these moments, say Modeh/Modah Ani. I am grateful.
Just a few times in each of our lives, the universe demonstrates to us how connected we all are. The whole world is concerned, and that makes us One. For at least this moment, we are one people, as we should always be if humanity was vulnerable enough to allow itself to acknowledge it. Let’s bring light from today into the future, that perhaps this can be one of those moments that changes the course of history. Maybe this is the moment when we truly all start caring for one another, no matter what.
Every morning, I sing that Modeh/Modah Ani, a Jewish chant of gratitude, to help me manage my own anxieties. Today, I sing the Shema, where we declare “Hear this, everyone, Adonai is One!” For me, Adonai is the potential for connection, hope, love, and yes, a little bit of fear and awe in the understanding of how delicate the balance of the world is. This balance lives in all of us, and we live in it. So we are all One. We are in this together as one humanity.
Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad. Hear this Israel. Hear this Humankind. Adonai is in all of us, and we are all called One.
Here is our Shema. Andy and I hope that if you choose to play it, and sing along with it in your times of worry, it will help you find the light.
Listen below or click here if it didn’t come through.
I’m here to talk as needed.