Corona Virus thoughts
I came across this essay on Facebook and have permission to repost it here. I hope you can find some calm amidst the storm of fear that is rolling across the world about this virus. And, if you are already sick, I wish you a return to good health. And if you are well, I wish you can remain so. And if you are full of fear, I wish you a breath of calm. Thank you to Rabbi Irwin Keller who wrote this piece. See more from him on his website www.Irwinkeller.com
This is a strange time. This virus thing has us all tied up in knots. It is demanding all our attention, all our fearful fascination. So that everything else becomes a backseat matter.And there's good and important stuff in that backseat. There's International Women's Day coming up and also Purim, where we celebrate Esther and Vashti, who are two International Women whose stories we carry forward.And there's thought and discussion to be had about what it means that on the week leading into International Women's day, the leading woman contender for the presidency has to leave the race, so that a lot of us will end up voting for a white man for the first time in 20 years. And on the other hand, what does it mean that one of the candidates is a Jew? Will that be good for the Jews? Is this what we've been waiting for? Or are we feeling just a little nervous?But we haven't gotten to explore these questions because we are caught up in the direness of this epidemic that is beginning to blossom around us. And it might be awful. Or it might be less awful.But it has our fear firing on all cylinders. It touches all of our past fear, particularly the feelings we had from the fires and last year's power outages. That is the fear that is familiar. And it is hard, in prepping for this virus, to not want to put out flashlights and batteries and pack a go-bag, because that's what this adrenaline state is used to asking of us.So one invitation for us might be to just breathe out the panic. This is not a fire. This is not a power outage. There is no place we should be fleeing to. Panic does not help us. Hot water and soap help us. So let's breathe out some of the panic, and breathe in the awareness that we have tools to keep ourselves safe, and we will be refining those over the next couple weeks – whether it's greeting each other with namaste posture or Cohanic y'varech'cha hands or elbow bumps. We old dogs can learn some new tricks.I confess I chuckle when I hear the name of the virus abbreviated to COVID-19. Koved in Hebrew means heaviness, weightiness. And I feel the heaviness of the responsibility ahead of us – the responsibility not to panic, the responsibility to learn and help each other learn the ways to stay healthy. And I feel the weight of the not-knowing – not knowing how exactly this will unfold.Koved in Yiddish means honor, respect. And I am called to honor the complexity of the Creation we live in. This Creation in which uncountable species compete for space and survival, including the tiniest ones, who can sometimes take down the mightiest among us. Species who, unlike humans, are not guided by malice, but simply by being what they are.And on the other hand, to offer koved, respect, to the wonder of us, the wonder of humanity, that we are frail and vulnerable and as a result we create and we sing and we make beauty out of our frailty and we build community to be stronger together than we are on our own. We humans are strong and resilient. We spend our lives wandering between health and sickness and back to health again, over and over, just about always making it through.This is how we have evolved; this is the Universe in which we have evolved. This is Creation. And it is hard not to feel awe.And so we will get through this. If we have to stay at home more. Read books. Wash our hands like our mothers told us to. Eat cans of vegetarian chili. Talk to each other on the phone. Pray together or welcome Shabbat together by Zoom or Skype or Google Hangout –– we will find our ingenious ways of being fully human: caring, creative, innovative, amusing.Because that is what our species does. And our meeting that other species will be cause to remember it. And so I offer koved, respect, honor, to all of us, our bodies and our neshomes, to all humanity.May all who are sick be healed. May all who are well stay well. And may we hold this time in awe and in love, as a species and as a community, hardwired for healing, compassion, and care.