On my way to meditation yesterday, I saw a beautiful rainbow, straight ahead, in my path, my eyes would have had to be closed to miss it. So obviously beautiful and powerful if you think rainbows are either in the spiritual or scientific sense. So when our meditation and study reflected on thoughts about one's journey, good/bad, feast/famine, divine/random, and expectations/disappointments, the rainbow's beauty stayed with me all day, even a day later as I write this.
In contrast to the rainbow, the word that I connected to during our study was famine. We learn about Abram going forth "to a land that I will show you" (Gen. 12:1) and once he arrives, he finds famine in the land. Today, famine is a reality for those who are homeless and hungry. Many experts and volunteers work hard to help those who need food, shelter and clothing. Personally, I struggle with turning my concern into action as I walk by or drive by those who are truly dealing with physical famine.
And then, those of us who are happily clothed, fed, and living in our most comfortable homes, still struggle with spiritual famines. The question for me is, "Can I recognize a spiritual famine in those moments that I get stuck, sad, lost, or simply wandering?" The answer is sometimes. There have been times in my life where feeling overwhelmed with sadness was a spiritual famine. For simplicity, I will use the anniversary of my father's death as an example. Yesterday was five years since my dad passed away. Immediately following his death, I was overwhelmed with sadness, confusion and relief that he had been released from his pain. I remember telling others that "sad" is such a trite, small, three letter word that cannot and does not fully express how I was feeling. There must be a bigger, multi-sylabbic word that is better and more fitting, but no, the truth is that there are no words that fully describe how one is feeling during such a difficult time. The complexities of my feelings during such a great loss and pain felt so unique and impossible to rebound. Yet, somehow, I got up and went to work, seemingly able to handle my life during that time. Smiles brought on guilt and laughter brought on tears. Until it didn't. Six months later, I noticed a change. It seemed sunnier outside, my heart felt lighter and I felt as though I walked through a new door. The famine was over.
Yesterday, I saw the rainbow and thought how one of the saddest days of my life is now a clear and colorful day. I am now able to fully remember moments with my dad as they had happened, and more importantly, laugh at old jokes he told, enjoy a restaurant that I know he would have liked, toast him with a terrific glass of wine and share his wisdom and spirit with my kids. And this is what I recognize as the journey from famine to feast.
Thank you Rabbi Ruth Sohn and our circle of learners for an incredible meditation and discussion.