It has been a week of incomplete sentences. Thoughts interrupted by chaos consuming the world: shootings and refugees and presidential candidates who have a thing about women, never mind my 8th grader’s science being inaccessible and tear inducing (for both of us). Then there is the young person I overheard. He says if you are from Mexico your career is limited to cleaning bathrooms. Or the security guard who didn’t flinch when he asked the African-American Dad, “Why are you here,” as his baby spits up on his Armani suit.
“I got all the way home and realized I left my sandwich on the salad bar. I cried. I actually cried,” a new mom behind me in line at the grocery store, says. She is with her 11-week old son. So tired, holding tightly to the string that binds her: baby. She tries to eat her now-retrieved sandwich. Baby fusses. She interrupts herself, holding his soft head against her warm shoulder, a pillow sewn years ago for this little body. I say, “He is lucky to have you.” She says nodding her head towards my boy, “He is lucky to have you.”
But is he? He is angry, tearful, emotional, and sad this week. He doesn’t want to be Jewish he tells me. I say – “You can’t un-choose it. It’s like saying you don’t want to be white or human. It just is; it’s in the bloodline. You can choose to not practice the religion or observe the culture, but you can’t stop being Jewish.” He knows people tried to hide their Jew-ness just for a shred of a hope to survive. Yet, he seems to be renouncing. As if this privilege to name, to be able to tell this part of the story, is not a viable choice. “Not only that,” I silently scream at CNN’s deaf, one-directional ear, “There are women’s locker rooms too. And I am pretty sure the topic of kissing people against their will has not come up.”
The Rabbi offers a Yom Kippur sermon in the form of a letter to his daughter, a less-than-3-month-old herself right now. He tells the story of tending an “orchard of G*d,” teaching through action, as he and his son plant the next generation: green stalks and shady things needing water. And what can we promise these babes as we face down the specter of today, of harshness slung against each other while we still try to hold onto that string of hope that binds us so that, “when they go low, we go high”?
I see a woman in an electric wheel chair, next to her a man, fully whitened head of hair. He is bent over, hunched at the mid back, like he sat at a desk for many hours staring closely at a problem set he was working by hand. He holds hers – hand that is, and I am struck. He appears so much more fragile than she, her feet enshrined in shiny shoes, twinkling as if by candle light. Yet she is the one we might call “disabled.” To whom belongs this decision?
Work weaves and wraps around this week too. Moments when my action oriented mind hits up against corporate lethargy – deadening me down to a thick, rancorous weight. Where is the genius lurking? Where is the human humility hiding? During this week I (dare I say we?) need a healing moment to face down the sad, slimy competitive promotion turned degrading combustion. Soothing is what we seek as we see that issues become eye sores and thoughtlessness has an acidic aftertaste.
Over and over I say to my husband. I do believe it. I do. The zombie apocalypse is coming. How else to explain the shameless heated fostering of public acrimony? Is there no place to sit down and stop? Feel the heartbeat? See the smoky breath coming from open mouths? This mess cannot be the way, so filled with no method-to-the-madness maniacal narcissistic whispering. Can it? I mean, who will we ever become?
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
Image courtesy of http://anaigbacasmir.weebly.com/blog/archives/06-2014