Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Patriots' Day Evening - Day 21 of the Omer

By Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Patriots' Day in Boston is filled with symbolism: remembering and appreciating the amazing efforts of determined and seemingly fearless people who put their lives on the line that a new and different order might be created in this land; gathering by the thousands from across the country and the world to run a long and difficult race - a race against a time clock, a conversation with mortality, a simple statement of determination; and even on the chilliest of April days, springtime, a time of rebirth and new growth and hope. Patriots' Day is all of this and so much more.

But today, all of that was shattered, replaced by fear, anger, and grief. And yet, there was and is more. At the hospital where I work, everyone wanted to help. Help was sorely needed, but sometimes too many of us were ready to step up to the plate. It was easy to be in the way instead of being helpful. I have no doubt that this scene was repeated all across Boston and beyond. Our immediate response to the pain of this day is to want to help. And it can be difficult to figure out just what to do, where to go, whom to help.

Tonight at sunset began the 21st day of the Omer, the counting of the days from Passover to Shavuot, from redemption to revelation. The mystical symbolism of this day is Malchut she b'Tifereth, Leadership in Compassion. On this particular day, this 21st day of the Omer in the year 5773, of all days, we need to allow our sense of compassion to remain with us and not let it get transformed into fear or anger or guilt or despair. That is the leadership role that each and every one of us can take. If we hold onto our compassion through today and through tomorrow and the next day and the next and on into the future, then we are doing something truly useful in response to this tragedy, then we are helping, no matter how far or how close we are to the scene and the individuals directly involved.
It isn't easy to maintain such leadership in compassion, so we need to take care of ourselves, too. We need to know that our own loved ones are, please G!d, safe and healthy. We need to remained connected to the faith and strength and steadiness deep within ourselves. We need to hold ourselves tightly in an eternal embrace. When our hearts threaten to be overwhelmed, let us step out into the darkness of the night to see the Moon and the stars. They are still there. They have not gone away. Their lights still shine forth, from within themselves or reflected from the light of the Sun. 

Let us allow the sight of the Moon and the stars to remind us that there is steadiness in the Universe and that we are being held and loved and supported by something larger and greater than ourselves, by the Source of Strength and Courage and Comfort in the Universe

May the One who makes peace in the heavens, bring peace upon us and upon all the world. May those in need of comfort feel held and embraced, and may each and every one of us find the strength we need to continue to lead the world with compassion.

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