Monday, October 29, 2012
Given the dire forecasts and our recent local history of power outages, I'm sending this out to our community before the worst of the storm hits.
If, once it is safe to travel, we have power at the temple, I will send out another email notifying congregants that the building will be open and available to you. We'll heat up some coffee and crank up the wi-fi, and feel free to stay as long as you wish. If we lose power, alas, we have no emergency generator, so there will be no email from me to let you know that.
Meanwhile, my prayer for all of you is that everyone remains safe and cautious.
I am looking out my window now and the trees are swaying relentlessly, bending to the wind's increasing power, but not yet breaking. As the gusts increase through the afternoon, it only seems a matter of time.
I know that for many in our community, there is an even greater threat, as the sea itself prepares to make landfall in a manner that, they tell us, we've never seen before.
In the primeval narrative of Genesis, the wind brought about a separation of waters, and then a separation of water from dry land. We're seeing before our eyes an undoing of this primal act of order. Sandy is a return to primordial chaos. Instinctively we recognize it - or at least my dogs do. We only need to pull ourselves from our electronic devices and look out the window.
The Hebrew word for wind is ruach, which also means "spirit." In Judaism. the meteorological and spiritual are deeply intertwined. The experience of a storm is a profoundly spiritual one, even in our day. Perhaps especially in our day, since, even when we can pinpoint well in advance what will happen, we are completely powerless to stop it. The weather is one of the few things left that reduces us to mush in the face of its power. It makes us realize how insignificant we really are.
Insignificant - and interdependent.
All we have is one another right now. And our hope in the God whom the ancients envisioned riding on this spirit-wind, and whom we imagine giving us the strength to overcome its impact.
I've collected some inspirational readings to help give you the strength that we all seek at a time like this, so that you can find your own place of calm within the storm.
See this collection of Jewish prayers of healing and hope during a time of natural disaster, collected by the URJ.
Also see this prayer for safety during a hurricane. And Naomi Levy's Psalm for victims of a hurricane or flood.
No one should be traveling now, but for those who are, there is the traditional Tefillat Haderech, the Wayfarer's Prayer.
My own poem, "The Storm Before the Calm" is a commentary on Psalm 29, the storm psalm, in light of modern Jerusalem and the peace process (it was written a few years ago, when there was one).
With my fervent hope that everyone finds a safe place - and that we can all come together to give thanks when the worst is over