Friends: My prior reminders that “We are all in this together” never rang more true than now. During my hiatus, it is not only I who have changed, seems the world jumped aboard. Around Purim time the “Upside-down” status intensified. Now we find ourselves heading towards Pesach, our holiday of liberation with more restrictions in our lives than ever. I am astounded by the timing of Coronavirus.
Looking for the silver lining, I take notice. Our medical professionals and emergency response teams step up beyond the call of duty, and those include mental health providers. Many are offering services pro bono, contact me for suggestions. The online LinkedIn community of business connections worldwide are creatively supporting each other practically and emotionally. Folks are treating each other kinder, even cherishing those in front of them. Creative thinking is at an all-time high, at least in expression. Our teachers are sharing from home and our parents have become teachers. Kids including “teenagers” are doing their part. We are doing great! Adjusting. Applause please! And now, what?
Being “alone” is painful. Everybody now knows what it feels like. Isolated, quarantined, restricted from human contact. Unnatural. Beyond minyans (prayer groups). Holidays have typically been dreaded by singles. This year takes the cake. Everybody will be “alone” in some way. We have already had Shabbos “inside”. Our leaders tell us we have to go “inside ourselves.” Deep. We have been stripped of our distractions aside from internet which has been put to purposeful use with shiurim, kumsitz by my son “Joey Newcomb” and others, tons of chizuk via zoom, exercise, meditation and even a Zoom yahrzeit.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg shared how we “are together” when physically apart. Achdus. I heard on a zoom yahrzeit a similar idea. A year later. Holding each other tight without touching. Praying alone while feeling together. The shul in our hearts. All relationships of worth require the ability to “hold the charge”. Feel like a “we” while apart, in actions and words. It is a commitment and requires “closing exits”. “Exits” we are taught are anything taking attention or energy away from our primary goal. It starts with a decision in our mind. Behaviors back it up. Mrs. Jackie Glaser spoke about how when we choose to “surrender” we become empowered. Sounds like a dialectic. It is not. It is clear as day now that we are not in control. NBA, Broadway and stock markets are affected. No one is immune. When we give up the resistance in our minds and let go of the rope so to speak, a relief comes over us freeing up space for our spiritual selves as well as our ability to embrace the “New Normal” and adjust accordingly.
My daughter Chevy and I just shared a laugh about not having hard boiled eggs on hand. Being prepared within reason requires forethought. Not necessarily hoarding toilet paper yet planning. This year Pesach will be different. We were due to head to Orlando for 2 weeks in luxury where my son was to be a headliner. The entourage AKA Joey’s Mom follows him on his many travels of inspiration. There will be others God willing. Acceptance is #1. Adjustment is #2. Gratitude is #3. Feel free to change the order. We are all potential “influencers” now, stepping up each in our own way. Maintaining an “Attitude of Gratitude” (Dave Linn) under these circumstances seems a herculean task. “Health is Wealth” is no longer understated. Guarding our health and overall well-being is imperative now and always.
For those struggling, please seek help. This is not the time to go it alone. We are told to lower our standard overall, including preparing for Pesach this year. Why is this year different than any other year? May be an added 5th question to our Seder. I am joking of course. By the way, laughter has helped many immeasurably and there is nothing wrong with it. Taking care of ourselves as a whole is not minimizing anybody else’s plight. Quite the opposite. The more we strengthen ourselves, the more we fight back in this war and this is a War. Check the practical guidelines for making Pesach. Corona affects breathing, yet when we breathe intently/meditate we can calm ourselves. Tikun/Repair. I will be the first to admit vulnerability. No I am not overjoyed. I am questioning. Sometimes I am afraid or sad, especially when I hear of loss to others or death. I cry at each one, not knowing any of them. My prayers have taken on a new intensity. Loss of life, loss of potential, families hurting. It is sad. Hearing sirens all Friday night worried me. I am powerless over any of that and accept and admit it. If we didn’t “feel” we would not be human. Where my power lies is in my thoughts about it all. I validate the real feelings, then I decide not to remain stuck there. Lesson for life. I choose to redirect my thoughts and actions productively. And sometimes I don’t. There is no perfection here Friends. This is unknown territory. Some days are better than others, so are some hours. I am being called upon round the clock to assist others with encouragement and infectious hope. That is a gift I have been given lifelong from the big boss upstairs. My son Joey is looked to as well. He uses his guitar. I use my written word. My daughter Bracha is creatively sharing her “Never give up hope” which she has certainly proven, through artwork and other tikun and folks flock to her. The “teenager” Chevy is the magnet for confused teens needing acceptance and yes “Chevy’s Mom” a newer title plays a role. We are doing this all virtually by the way, following the rules and guidelines of our leaders for social distancing in order to protect others in actions/words.
The excuse “We don’t have time” has fallen by the wayside. I have been making amends. Others are doing the same. Tell and show others you love them. Nurture special relationships lacking time and commitment prior. I have been blessed with Deep, meaningful conversations and those able to have them. Let go of relationships which are energy draining or unhealthy, I have chosen to do this too. Confusion takes away our peace of mind. We can thank and appreciate others from a distance. This is THE opportunity to better ourselves. To truly think about what we are here for uniquely and put it into practice. Living with intent/alacrity instead of running on auto-pilot/unconsciously. That is cause for celebration. “Don’t wait!”-which is Perhaps the greatest lesson of all. We are going to go out of this ordeal, out of Egypt, out of our personal prisons and out of Corona. The new Serenity prayer for me is: Hashem grant me the wisdom to know which things to “go out” from and “don’t look back” and which to “take with us.” My son’s song “Lech Lecha” is along those lines. He told me “Ima it’s the simple things which are in your way, holding you back.” I fully intend to take the current lessons with me forever. They are timeless. So is my son’s “Thank you Hashem.” Yes, even now. Thanks for whatever and whoever we have. Using our voices to pray out loud, share, sing, even dance. And cry. Say it now. Hashem is not quarantined. He’s always available if we let him in. We will get through this. We already are. Please contact my family for support anytime. We are here for you including a virtual cup of coffee.
My war cry: Please Hashem stop the suffering soon! We hear the message. Loud and clear.