Last week as I was writing about the many messages from HaShem during a glorious jog on the beach, I was not unaware that writing this during the winter for many of my readers in New England could feel very unrelatable, not to mention during a week of horrific headlines from Texas and elsewhere. I awoke last Shabbat morning to a story from the Texas Tribune about an 11 year old boy from Honduras who gleefully saw his first snow on Sunday and then died two days later from the extreme cold with no heat at his new home in Texas.
News of hitting the five hundred thousand Covid deaths marker on the same day that I Facetime with my grandbaby – how do we live with such seemingly daily dissonance in our lives? This is not a new struggle in just recent days. Every story of school shootings was often juxtaposed with stories of love and heroism of the survivors, or vignettes of forgiveness of the shooters by relatives of the victims. We still rejoice when we hear of the victors of the many maimed by the Boston Marathon bombings now so many years back.
When my sister read last week’s Shabbat encouragement from her snowy New England home she said it made her feel like she was walking on the beach with me. So one way to experience another’s moments of joy is to enter the feeling with them. If your current circumstance seems quite the opposite, sensing the happiness of another, and further, feeling the love intended, often can make your own path feel a little less severe. Such an outlook is so much more life giving than making comparisons of what seems like another’s great life compared to your own. How much better we actually feel when happy for another rather than when we allow jealousy to steal our heart.
We so often these days have to grab every chance we can to experience positivity and happiness. Although we must also live the dark moments, balancing the joyful and dark times is essential. Does a person with a terminal cancer diagnosis live each moment in sadness, feeling the inevitable now rather than whenever it will be? He or she can. Or they can choose to look at each day as a gift to be lived as deeply as possible, knowing our Abba is faithful, feeling hope in Him for whatever the future brings on this side of life as we know it or after.
Each moment is our life. While jogging on the beach feeling HaShem’s intimacy, it’s important to revel in that, bask in that, share it to encourage others, so that when perhaps even on the same day life might throw me a curve ball of sadness, I am fortified to deal with that challenge in that moment. There is a time for each, importance of each. Immersing in moments of joy recharges our batteries for those many other times even in the same hour when our hearts go out to those suffering. We are strengthened to try to do something to help, or if not possible, at least to grieve with our brothers and sisters from a place of strength.
Deeply experiencing each moment at a time, whether of joy or sorrow, and all that is in between, provides the balance we need to live deeply, meaningfully, and better equipped to manage the otherwise inherent dissonance. This irreconcilability is not meant to be understood or solved. By not trying to do so we can feel less confused, less guilty when happy, better able to handle the hardships.
As we enter the month of Adar, our joy is to increase. Though we can still feel HaShem’s presence during the darker days, and sometimes moreso, this month propels our thoughts forward to even brighter days ahead, whether they be spring around the corner, or days of less stress, anxiety, and sickness.
We are reminded to live lives of gratitude for each breath. Recent words from Amanda Kloots, widow of Broadway star Nick Cordero who died from Covid at age 41 last summer:
“Be grateful for every day here on this earth.
Be grateful for all the blessings you have.
Take that family photo.
Say I love you.
Make the phone call.
Pray and believe.
Get back up again.
Take one day at a time.”
All in Him as our Rock.