Reflections upon four years
I am frequently asked how the community is doing, and I try to emphasize that there is no one adjective that can encompass an entire range of emotions in a community.
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the poem “Troilus and Criseyde” in the 1380s, “As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure.” Does time heal all wounds? Is the wound of 10.27 different?
I am frequently asked how the community is doing, and I try to emphasize that there is no one adjective that can encompass an entire range of emotions in a community. However, I think that an apt descriptor would be “healing.” Permit me to explain.
I have become more sensitive to the onslaught of mass shootings in the United States, with nearly 600 counted as of the end of September. Alas, we just had one in Pittsburgh. One mass shooting is one too many, but sometimes one strikes at my core, tearing the scab off of the wound that I have carefully protected to promote healing. There will be occasions when this is the reaction, and the new tools in my toolbox are utilized to respond. Over time you learn how to integrate the trauma into your being, cognizant that there will be moments when you have to open the tool box. Once in a while there are not enough tools.
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There is most likely a range of responses to bad news, as no two people are the same. Some may have been able to carefully cultivate a thicker, outer skin to repel unwelcome news. I pray that there is no one at the extreme end, unable to process any traumatic news. Most people would probably be able to process difficult news, with the potential that one event might be very challenging. It is not easy to process mass shooting after mass shooting without becoming numb, or depressed. How does one maintain their humanity while simultaneously retaining their sanity?
In conversations with members of my club that no one should belong to, I have found much commonality and empathy, for if there is anyone who understands, it is a fellow club member. There is no detour around the fact that for some, an annual commemoration brings back painful memories. When coupled with other events in the course of a year, it can sometimes be challenging not to feel forlorn. Recognizing that there is much good around us is an important tool to maintain a balance in one’s life. Despite my wish not to be a member of the club, a warm embrace by another club member is incredibly powerful. The unspoken words of that moment can be far louder than anything said.
I will continue to use the word “healing” when asked how the community is doing, yet I pray that one day, perhaps, I might be able to respond: “healed.” PJC
Jeffrey Myers is the Rabbi/Hazzan of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha congregation and chair of the honorary cabinet for the REMEMBER. REBUILD. RENEW. campaign to support the reimagined Tree of Life.