How we don’t know what we don’t know. . .
Last Erev Shabbat I flew back from Dallas to Boston. After six weeks with my dear ones and after the passing of my loved one there, it was time to come home. Other loved ones were there to take my place as we could all look forward to being together back in New England for the end of the year holidays coming soon.
My music group was up to lead worship on Shabbat morning, and so, I came to rehearsal and assumed Shabbat would be just like I left it, that I would be able to jump right in where I left off so many weeks ago. I was so ready to engage in worship together, yet found it hard to do so. I couldn’t bring myself to chat at oneg, actually never even made it there feeling more comfortable with one-on-one time with a cherished person I hadn’t seen in so long.
The day also happened to be my nephew’s birthday and since Sid and I stay at my sister’s house here I was looking forward to being drawn into the family celebration. Yet, as the day went on, it was like I was watching someone else go through the motions. My heart was still so heavy. . . It wasn’t just the grieving for my loss. It was something more. . .
I actually didn’t know what was happening until the next day, on Sunday morning. I had been working on playing some songs on my ukulele and singing for my sister’s karate school performance of “A Christmas Carol” scheduled for that afternoon. So I was busying myself with learning Christmas carols and also playing WERS’ Chagigah Radio show in the background. As music filled my soul from multiple inputs, I felt the change. As I heard the Sephardic version of “Adon Olam” on the radio, I began to dance around the kitchen. On the commercials I sang and played Christmas carols on my ukulele. All of a sudden, yet gradually, I was able to look out the window and thank HaShem for a glorious day in New England. I had come home not just physically, but also in my heart.
I knew that when I was in Dallas I was unable to have conversations with those not there. I had to isolate myself to be with just those with me and with God during the many difficult weeks. The experience was too intense. Now that I’m back I can look at that situation and talk with my loved ones there, but as from an outsider looking in. I just didn’t anticipate that my full return from such a difficult experience, and loss, would take time. I didn’t know I wasn’t able to be here, fully in this present, until I felt the difference in my emotions between Sunday and Saturday. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
On that first day back, when my heart was elsewhere and yet when trying to be part of life here, I gained a deeper insight into how this dilemma is one we often face. It’s easy to see it in the example I just lived – walking alongside one dying and then by a 4 hour plane flight, being thrust into one’s routines. Yet how often are we troubled by something and then need to interface with another as if nothing is wrong? Countless times, really. We’re having a stressful day at work or at home and our children seemingly bombard us with requests as they eagerly greet us. The questions feel like demands not because of the requests, but rather, because of our emotions at the time. Or we’ve just had a challenging situation and we’re expected at a meeting or at a social event. Switching gears is not easy!
Often we don’t even realize why we’re not feeling it, why we’re feeling on edge. No matter how self aware we are, no matter how cerebral in our usual reactions, we’re only human. The brain is amazing but emotions are strong drivers of our daily perceptions. Being able to recognize where our heart is at the time is a game changer, for our brain may be a few steps ahead. So when we use our brain to help us understand our emotions, which really can’t be changed at that moment, we are then able to give ourselves grace, delivered straight from HaShem, to at least understand why we are struggling, even if more time is needed to process. Recognizing this dynamic allows our more cerebral side to say, take a break, don’t push it, this can wait, give yourself time, you’ll feel better tomorrow. HaShem has this. He has your back. He is your rock. He cradles you in the shadow of His wings.
Oh how glorious we feel when we can take that step toward the light again! What a blessing how He uses friends, family, acquaintances, situations, music, and prayer to embrace us in His Love. The more we recognize our need for Him, the more we feel His presence. Your vulnerability will let Yeshua in.
So on Sunday afternoon, I went off to play my ukulele, sing, and bring joy to others! And to myself as well.