Shabbat Message from Rabbi Kleinberg – Ways to remain calm, find joy, and stay connected. ❤️🙏🌎
In times like this, the right words are often hard to come by, so I am grateful for the words of others. Here are some prescient ones from Mary Oliver:
Don’t Hesitate (2012)
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
As you know from our recent communication, the Kehillah campus will be closed until at least May 4th. As a result, the next five weeks will be present a number of tests for us all, among them: a test of our ability to remain calm, even in the face of growing uncertainty; a test of our capacity to find joy, even in the face of great pain and suffering; a test of our ability to stay connected to extended family and friends, even as we continue to be physically distant from one another; and a test of strengthening family bonds, even as we are closer than ever before.
The test to remain calm in the face of growing uncertainty can be met with the simplicity of your breath. Whenever you feel your anxiety levels rising, consider pausing and bringing your attention to your breath. Follow an in-breath from beginning to end…rest in the openness between in- and out-breath…and follow the breath back out again. Feel your abdomen expand on an in-breath…rest in openness…and feel it contract on an out-breath. Feel your chest rise on an in-breath…rest in openness…and feel it lower on an out-breath. Feel the air at your nostrils on an in-breath…rest in openness…and feel the air at your nostrils again on an out-breath.
The test of our capacity to find joy in the face of great pain and suffering can be met by cultivating attention. Each moment is a new miracle, unfolding before our senses. Take time with grass, trees, clouds, rain, pets, each other. Allow a smile to appear on your face and rest in the sensation of the smile. Feeling the smile as you breathe, you may begin to feel your whole body, your whole being, begin to smile. Yes, there are terrible things happening in the world, but we will only prevail if we can care for ourselves first, and that demands that we allow ourselves to feel joy.
The test of our ability to stay connected to extended family and friends at a time of physical distancing can be met by reaching out. Consider taking some time out of your day today to make a list of all the people you care about – extended family and friends that you are in regular contact with, and those you’re in touch with less often. Maybe even those you haven’t been in touch with for years. And then, reach out to them. Send a text, make a phone call, or maybe even write them a letter (gasp!). They need to hear from you, and you will hear back from them, creating a virtuous circle that will bring healing to everyone it touches.
And the test of strengthening family bonds even as we are closer together than ever before can be met by opening our hearts to one another. Spouses, parents and children, and siblings can all open ourselves to one another in ways that strengthen our connection. Adults: remember the all-important acronym: W.A.I.T. – Why Am I Talking? Children: be patient with us old-‘ens; we’re slow sometimes, but we’ll get there. These are hard times, but family is the most important unit we have to get us through. The very last verse in the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible reads thus: “And the hearts of the parents shall return to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; lest I come and strike the land with destruction” (Malachi 3:24). The meaning is simple: it is our family bond that protects us from destruction. This is the solution to our test.
Sending blessings to you all for a Shabbat and weekend of calm and joy, of dedication and strengthening bonds; a Shabbat of love.