Recently, I was speaking with a friend on the telephone. This friend also happens to be a Temple Emanu-El congregant. When she asked me how I was doing, I told her the truth, “some days are better than others, and some weeks are better than others.” She was surprised at what I said. “Really?” I assured her that this was true. It happens that this week I am doing ok, but there have been other weeks where the time has been rough.
I don’t think for a moment that I am unique in this. I know that I am not. My family and I have been (and continue to be) in as strict quarantine as we can manage, for all the right reasons. And that can take its toll. Most of the ‘lows’ that I experience come from missed opportunities and events that time will not give back. All of us are experiencing this in one way or another: Graduations that are absent of anticipated celebration, life-changing trips canceled, simchas delayed, hugging our grandkids, parents, or grandparents, spending time with friends…
The fact that others have it worse than we do (without question) does not detract from the very real ‘loss’ that this type of time brings to us.
In my 20’s, when I first began to delve deeply into Judaism, I was always both attracted to, and slightly skeptical of, the prophets (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos,…) from our Tanach. They were living through, and preaching in, some of the worst circumstances that the Jewish people have ever experienced. They preached in the aftermath of war and exile, amid hunger and confusion. Their congregants were experiencing a world that was upside down. At times, in their addresses, those prophets were harsh. Their theology aside, they were blunt about people accepting accountability for their choices, and the consequences that resulted from them. That is hard to say, and harder even to hear.
But what I love about our prophets, was that at the end of their ‘tough love’, they always ended with messages of hope. No, more than that…promises of hope.
Things were bad, and that was a fact. But they promised that things would get better.
I am, in my heart, an optimist. I always have been. The fact that I am sometimes right only makes me more so.
I am getting through the weeks and days, mostly, by striving towards health and happiness, meaningful connection, and active plans for the near future. The fact that we are working towards a hopeful Autumn at Temple Emanu-El by tweaking our methods but not our aspirations is the very best promise of hope that I can actively bring to my own life, and likely to you reading this message.
Our prayers for a safe and measured return to normal are the beginning.
Shabbat shalom to you and your family,