On a Shabbat

It’s been several weeks after my mother passed. I was recently talking with a friend who remarked that after losing someone, you often feel like you’re running to keep up with life. I could certainly agree. It felt like everyone and everything was on a train pulling out of the station, and I was running along the platform trying to find an opportunity to jump on board.

I wished that the world would just stop, so that I could catch up.

This was not what I had in mind.

I must admit, the sudden and absolute emptying of my schedule has been healing. I did get my wish – a vacation from responsibilities without guilt. If everything is closed and cancelled, I’m not missing anything, I’m not letting anyone down, I’m not leaving work undone or incomplete.

I can’t say my stress level has dropped significantly. I’ve traded every-day stress for existential worry about friends and family. But there’s opened the opportunity for time. Without the every day busy-ness, there is room for self-reflection. I’m remembering to take time to breathe – to just be. There is room for new kinds of creativity and discovery as we figure out how to adjust our lives so we can work and interact primarily online, from the comfort and safety of our homes.

This is not to say things are going great. We definitely find ourselves living in interesting times (my fault again – when learning the true meaning of this phrase, teenage me replied “bring it on” – oy!). I’m not advising to look on the bright side, or find the silver lining… but rather, sit with your feelings. Reflect on things.

We’ve been given a Shabbat.

It’s not a Shabbat of rest. It’s a Shabbat that shows us what’s really important. A Shabbat that reminds us that our personal connections, our family and our community are most important. A Shabbat that teaches us the real value of work and money. A Shabbat that highlights the interconnectedness of all humanity and the environment. A Shabbat that uncovers the needs of the people and the responsibilities of our leaders. A Shabbat that gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives and how to be of service to society. A Shabbat where we see the results of fear and love.

Once this Shabbat is over, how will things be different? How will they be the same? Will we have learned to live differently? Will we be more aligned with our stated values? What will “normal” look like? Will we go back to doing things the way we always have? Or will we find new ways of doing things? Will we have learned to value people over profits? Will we have renewed urgency to protect the Earth? How will my community be different? What will I have learned?

I don’t have answers, other than to urge us all to stand strong and act in accordance with our values.

Shabbat Shalom