all of the selves we Have ever been
I am trying to establish a daily routine,
stick to a plan.
My mind does not want to cooperate. It may have gone AWOL.
My normally busy, creative brain is at a standstill. Usually full of questions and ideas, my head is now as empty as a jack-o-lantern.
I open a window to the outside world and enjoy the incoming breeze. I order my mind to give me some sign of life
My thoughts drift to a man I once met, a Holocaust survivor. He was a small boy about the age of five when the Nazis overtook his country. He witnessed so many horrors. His youth was spent surviving, surviving the terror as family members were shot and raped in front of him. He survived the ghettos and a youth spent on the run and in hiding. Fear and starvation were his constant companions.
By the time the war was over, the boy was a teenager. As he waited in a new kind of camp to be re-settled, the boy liked to wander the streets of town looking in windows. He enjoyed watching people work and shopkeepers waiting on customers. He relished the sights of families gathering for meals, or groups of heads bowed in prayer, men reading newspapers, and mothers embracing their children.
You would think a youngster who had witnessed so much horror would have lost his innocence along with his youth, but this man retained a sweet, childlike craving. He told me that when the war ended, he was left “so hungry for people.” He looked into the windows as a student of life, trying to understand how people were meant to live. What he saw filled him with hope and joy and determination.
I think of this man often. He and his stories give me courage, hope and perspective. As I think of him today, I realize that my head is not empty, but that I, too, am hungry for people. While my situation in no way compares to what this man went through in war, the current isolation leaves me with a yearning for others and the shared way in which we once lived.
Technology has been a godsend during this pandemic, but smartphones, tablets, and computers are not enough. The current that runs through our devices pales to the surge of electricity that runs through us when we pray aloud together, share a big meal, or do productive work side-by-side. Facetime with the grandchildren is a technological miracle, but it is no substitute for cuddling them in our arms. The feeling of delight and anticipation when preparing Sunday dinner for a gathering family cannot be compared to even the most delicious take-out order. The infusion of learning, the lights that come on inside us when we stand beside a talented colleague and watch them work is far more exhilarating than a YouTube video.
Man was not meant to live alone. When the Creator saw that man was lonely, He gave him a partner. Together the man and his partner created the family of man. When we are together, we share the warmth of the divine spark that it is in each of us. That is a heat that cannot be reproduced by technology.
Right now I feel like the world is in a universal time-out. Perhaps we all have been sent to our rooms to think about what we have done. We have orders not to come out until we learn how to get along. In many sectors, it seems to be working. I plead to be let out. I promise to behave, to do better, and besides, I’m starving.
My head is not empty. It is hungry. Hungry for people.