And yet, insist on joy?
A large group of pilgrims/passengers on line for security in the Tel Aviv airport had ashen crosses on their foreheads, mingling in with Ultra Orthodox families and their many hat boxes, and the rest of us, less clearly marked. Just people, everybody going somewhere, holding on to boarding cards and, courtesy of Delta, shiny tinsel chocolate hearts. Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day combined with the New Moon of Adar on just another midnight flight to NYC and with the news of yet another mass shooting in a school and needless broken hearts and shattered lives.
This, with the noise from Jerusalem and DC of shameful leaders and mounting policies of division, after a few lovely days in Jerusalem and the dessert with family and friends, blissful moments of almond blossoms and honest conversations, combined to re-insist amid the rage and grief and worry to insist on little bits of joy if to survive without succumbing to numbing deflations.
There’s wifi no these planes and I was texting with a kid up way too late because of sad thoughts and distractions. Focus on what’s good, I txt, and go back to bed planning one thing that will make you feel good tomorrow. I do the same and wake up as the breakfasts start to make the aisles.
The first day of Adar, this new moon bringing on the spring is the one of joy in our tradition. Purim coming up and with it end of winter and hopes for always, always better times. Reb Nachman, often depressed, counseled to focus on joy even in dark places: “Always remember: joy is not merely incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.”
After we come home, and after we eat the chocolate hearts and the foreheads are cleaned of ash so the countdown continues and the moon grows full and the dead are buried and the mourners held, and the cries for less prayer and more action grow louder till real justice wins, after that and maybe not wait, right now, we somehow must insist on little large ways to make us and others happy, happier, and somehow, more now, insist on joy.