by Rabbi Robin Damsky
The fingertips of Hurricane Isaías brush the skylights of my sunroom and drench the woods around my house. Tomorrow the guts are expected to touch down a few hours from here. I expect we’ll see just his shoulder, nonetheless yielding flash floods, downing power lines and trees, with potential tornado winds. The house is well protected. I feel safe…
Yet I don’t feel safe in general. The world is reeling from an insidious disease completely preventable. As the icebergs in the polar caps melt, exposing bacteria frozen for hundreds of millennia, as species of plants and animals disappear at an alarming rate, continuing to upset the delicate balance of Creation’s ecosystem, as toxic industry ruins our earth, water, air and soil, we have paved the way for disease to run rampant.
The disease of the Earth translates into dis-ease for her people. Not only are we dying from COVID-19, we are dying from lack of food, lack of potable drinking water – which is expected to lead the next wave of refugees and immigration, causing more hardship and strife, lack of income and a dearth of earth-friendly business.
But what we are really dying of is lack of love. Lack of compassion, lack of kindness.
The human thread that holds us all together, and that binds us successfully to the planet that nourishes us, is severed in so many places. To feel the wounds borne of hate and injustice, to see the violence bleeding out of hearts hardened to simple human decency is the most heartbreaking dis-ease of them all.
We have to find our way home. Home to gentleness and care, to kindness and tenderness. We must first feed these foods to ourselves. We must hold our own hearts as we grieve, mother and father our own brokenness to help us rise up; stand up straight. And as we learn to treat ourselves with love and care, we nurture the seeds growing inside us – the seeds of healing the planet and all those who reside in and upon it.
This is what the pandemic is teaching me. That I must go in to my own wounds, many of them old – ancient seeming – and hold them in my arms to permit them to heal. As I sit in the pain I see light. Possibility emerges. It is a new and yet it is the re-emergence of something old – a way of living in harmony with all earth’s creatures and tides. A way that sings with interconnectedness and with beauty effervescing from all of our colors intermingling in harmony.
It’s good work for this Elul. May we find healing light for ourselves, enough to radiate it outward to others and our beloved planet.
© Rabbi Robin Damsky
Robin Damsky is the founder and executive director of In the Gardens: http://inthegardens.org/. She works to bring organic, permaculture garden design along with mindfulness, meditation and movement to communities and individuals to mitigate hunger, to support our planet, and to nourish healthy relationships with self and others. She serves part time as the rabbi of Temple Israel in Gary, IN, and lives in Chapel Hill, NC.