In the park near my home, nature is drenched in color. The luminous gold, deep maroon and fiery red leaves still cling to many of the trees despite the early November date. The sun is as high as it will get this time of year at nearly noon and the bright blue sky and puffs of clouds slowly drift along in the mostly still air, speaking of calm and peace.
It is good to be here, in this moment.
And yet, overwhelming thoughts roil my mind. My heart fractures at the loss, pain and fear so many people are experiencing nearly 6,000 miles away, in Israel.
After 80 years, the Jewish people have arrived at a “Never Again” moment, when an enemy has mustered all its resources to destroy us inside our homeland, and to turn the world against us with invective, vitriol and lies. This time, it is the terrorist organization, Hamas.
Hamas’ 300 miles of tunnels go deep into Gaza, leading to command-and-control headquarters hidden beneath hospitals, schools and mosques. No matter that using Palestinians as human shields is inhumane, indecent and against all the rules of war. No matter that Hamas is reported to have shot brethren trying to escape to the southern part of Gaza.
Hiding behind women and children and wearing civilian clothes proves good protection for Hamas terrorists, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tries to root them out while minimizing the death of innocents. Sadly, curtailing civilian casualties comes at the cost of a longer, slower incursion for the IDF.
Twelve years ago, Israel swapped 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier who had been held in Gaza for five years. That act says much about the way that Israel values human life. Sadly, though, one of those released prisoners helped to mastermind the bloody and inhumane carnage of October 7.
Any death of innocent people is repugnant to civilized people all over the world. But Hamas likes to depict Israeli soldiers as being insensitive to the death of civilians. That depiction ignites more hatred of Jews globally, so antisemitism once again rears its deadly head.
Meanwhile, 240 innocent hostages — children, mothers, fathers, an elderly man in a wheelchair and a Holocaust historian — are still missing after so many weeks — brutally captured and wrested from those who hold them dear, their fate unknown. We wait and pray for their return.
Where is the worldwide outrage over this?
What am I to do to silence my mind and calm my fears as I stand in the park by a gentle stream and watch the golden leaves gently move beneath the surface of the water?
I walk over a bridge and pick up a rock from the pathway. I summon up my worries and my embedded trauma from deep within. I will myself to relax, to let go of the tension in my neck, back and hips, and to bring it to the surface where I can transfer it into the hard, grey rock I hold in my right hand.
I energetically project all my worries onto this inanimate object and toss it into the water. It sinks below the colorful leaves that lay just beneath the surface of the shimmering stream. The rock stays there, weighed down by its heft and the current’s seeming inability to carry it further downstream. It is too heavy a burden.