This morning, we did not rush to get the kids off to school. We lingered in pajamas. We let Daddy sleep in. The boys began their 5th game of monopoly. Day seven.
There are gifts in this time out of ordinary time. This involuntary worldwide Shabbat.
In our community’s online zoom sessions so far, we have been able to see the faces of members from Sonoma to Benecia to Pacifica to San Francisco, people we have missed in our geographical scatteredness. Last week we were joined for Shabbat blessings by a guest in another time zone who missed a local service but found us online. We are connecting in ways that reach beyond our previous capacity. In some paradoxical way, our apartness is bringing us together.
This is not to minimize the seriousness of our moment.
The suffering is real. I just had a zoom session with rabbinical colleagues all over the country and heard stories of caring for toddlers while running a synagogue from home, a virtual funeral, family members with fever and cough unable to get a test, overseeing painful lay-offs, and caring for vulnerable community members who live in poor neighborhoods with high concentrations of the virus. And from what we know, things will get worse before they get better.
But eventually, things will get better.
Humanity will make it through. And in the process, we will learn so many things. About our interconnectedness. About vulnerability and compassion. About the value of being together in a room making music unmediated by screens.
To me it is helpful to remember, our people have been through much worse. We have many spiritual resources to turn to in this time. Eventually, this trial will make us stronger. And on the other side, just think of how sweet it will be to gather! When this all ends, what celebrations we will have!
When the children of Israel were fleeing from Egypt, there was a moment of terrible fear. Ahead of them, the Sea of Reeds blocked their way forward. Behind them, the chariots of Pharaoh closed in. Some cried out in despair, “It would have been better to die in Egypt!” But Moses reassured them, “Do not be afraid. Stand fast together and witness Adonai’s salvation… be silent and still.” (Ex. 13:13-14). Right now, as we face this grand collective challenge, may we find our courage, standing together in new ways, supporting those in need. And may we be blessed to find the gifts and the learning in this time of remarkable global stillness.