Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Musings From Self-Isolation-Day 2

Day 2

I've been thinking today about how this world crisis has offered us an odd paradox. As we watch the world shut down bit by bit and our personal interactions dwindle to almost nothing, there is a fear that our forced isolations will become permanent and that we will lose our connections with our closest of friends and even the strangers among us. And yet, over the past few days, I have felt more connected than ever through the magic of our virtual world.

The Husband and I discussed this during our long drive over the weekend. Imagine that this plague had hit even twenty years ago. Imagine being forced into isolation and the only communication available is your telephone. No Facetime. No photographs. No chats. Now, imagine it had occurred one-hundred years ago. Telephones were limited, mail might have been downsized due to the direct contact, and telegrams were scary and expensive. We live in an amazing era. An era that is so global in scope, that a virus can attack an entire planet in a matter of months but is also so global in scope, that we can sing with nine-thousand people from all over the world on the internet in a mass choir gathering without ever leaving our homes. It may not replace sitting next to your friends in the alto section but it does offer a cooling respite from the separation.

My GUCI friends will remember when our teacher Bonia Shur (z"l) came to camp one summer and taught us, in his own unique way, the valuable lesson of "everything is connected". We laughed and goofed around, thinking it was trite drivel and bullshit philosophy but today it is more important than ever. We are all connected and that connection is now critical to our very survival. The person who stays home is perhaps saving the life of the senior citizen in a nursing home. The person who frolics on the beaches of South Florida is potentially endangering the health of the child with cancer. We can no longer live our lives for ourselves. We must think of every person on the planet as a potential victim and we must do everything we possibly can to prevent the spread. Everything is connected.

Today, my synagogue's weekly Talmud class grew from an average of about five attendees to a whopping seventeen souls, all online. Connection! (People have more flexible work schedules.) Our continuing conversation of Tractate Berachot led us to our current situation. The idea of punishment and reward was on the table and the question was asked, "where does God fit in?" I suggested that rather than looking for theological answers of why The Divine Spirit would let such a calamity occur, we should instead look for sparks of the divinity in our everyday interactions. It reminded me of the Joan Osborne song, What If God Was One of Us. Maybe we are seeing God in the cashier who paid for the elderly woman's toilet paper. Maybe God is in my friend who drove out of her way to deliver groceries to us. Maybe there is a spark of God in my Sister/Cousin who is nursing sick patients through this virus without once complaining or expressing her own fears. These are godly acts and through them, we have been afforded the great gift of connectedness.

This isolation is only beginning. There will be difficult days ahead and I am certain that I won't always be able to wax philosophy and Talmud but will instead be bitter and angry. I'm sure that there will be days when I rail at stupidity and swear uncontrollably. Today, I am merely grateful for my internet access, my friends, my family, my music, and my communities. Everything is connected.

Wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Be kind. Stay healthy.

***Here are the lyrics and video for What If God Was One of Us.

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home?

If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see if, seeing meant
That you would have to believe in things like heaven
And in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home?

Just tryin' to make his way…





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