How do people do it? How do they survive with any essence of joy or peace in life without being part of a God-centered, Yeshua-centered, community? For those of you who do not have this option in the flesh, I understand and know that even virtual community counts. But for those of you with a local option available, such as Ruach Israel for those of you here in MA (and NH!), how do you not seek its comfort regularly?
I so often write about eagles and beaches and the beauty I see. But my life is no more charmed than yours. I bleed like you do. I hurt like you do. As I drove to Rosh Hashanah services this week I was still reeling from a very hard week. Not only did the loss of our dear Annette cut deeply, but I had had a terrible run-in with my mentally ill adult daughter. Suffice it to say, as a mother, I was shaken to the core, and am still processing my feelings of pain, of rejection, of loss of the relationship we once had together. As I drove, I prayed, “How do people do it?” Especially when life is more lemons than lemonade, or when current events are overwhelmingly negative, how do we live with any sense of hope without feeling close to HaShem? And how do we maintain that closeness?
It’s important to pray individually daily and often. It’s important to keep your spiritual eyes and ears open to His many signs and wonders. And the more we do, the more He reveals, the closer we become to His almighty presence that nurtures us, sustains us, heals us. But especially when daily living becomes hard for us as individuals, when feeling His presence is difficult, to have the blessing of being part of a faith-filled community is an important part of our spiritual good health. We cannot walk this walk alone, just one on one with our Abba, and with Yeshua. It takes community. Truthfully, where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there. (Matthew 18:20.) His presence is magnified.
So I arrived at services and I can’t explain it, but the room immediately felt light, joyful, filled with Him. The sadness in my heart was lifted by the Ruach. To punctuate the point, Rabbi Rich spoke on, of all topics, how laughter was so much a part of the story of the birth of Isaac, the name in Hebrew meaning “laughter”! HaShem had to bring home the point later in the morning when Chaya and I had the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing over a silly remark I made. Who could possibly imagine the sad person I was when I arrived could be hysterically laughing only a couple short hours later? No imagination involved. It’s the result of HaShem’s plan for each of us to seek His presence, and He will do the rest.
I sometimes have to miss services. But when I do, it is my loss. And I try to only do it when absolutely necessary. There really are very few, if any excuses, other than health. I don’t kid myself about that. I just try to feel His grace as I make my human flawed choices when I miss which are not that often. In any event, when I miss services, it is not a light decision. For I know that being in community with my Ruach brothers and sisters regularly not only is critical to my spiritual good health, but it brings me home to my family. As Rabbi Rich says, “When one of us is not there, it’s like a tooth is missing from our smile.”
Of course, community does not happen without service. We know who in our Ruach family carry the laboring oars in this regard and it is a challenge to each of us to lighten those loads. It is right that if we gain so much from being part of this special place that we, in turn, must do our part to make our spiritual home the best home ever! When we serve others, we serve our Abba. He has given us this treasure to sustain us, to be His Hands on earth. And as we cherish with thankfulness those who serve without being asked, in the perfect model of Annette, do we not become incentivized to work toward that model of sacrificial service, of sacrificial love? And when we do, we walk all the closer with our Abba. We serve to be like Yeshua, the epitome of sacrificial love.
So of course keep praying individually for our one-on-ones with HaShem feed us daily. But I do encourage you to play and pray communally regularly. Be encouraged to serve others selflessly in that community. The love we give to others is returned to us beyond measure.
Solos are beautiful. But when the voices of the choir sound as one, we are transformed.