Feeding Our Souls

I connect to God when I’m standing at the top of a mountain. I can feel the warmth of inspiration when I have my feet in the sand, when I see a beautiful bird, or when I eat a delicious meal. For others, they connect when they are in synagogue, praying with a minyan, tallit draped over their shoulders and siddur in their hands. And, there are many who experience the divine when they create or consume art—music, dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, acting, and writing.

Those of us seeking God—and I believe most of us are—find rhythms to access that feeling of comfort and connection. Pre-pandemic, I cooked, or I spent time in nature, or I planned an amazing vacation that I wouldn’t take for years to soothe my stressed soul, and then I was energized for whatever came next that week, that month.

As life was flying by, I was in a rhythm. I could do almost everything I needed to do decently well, albeit often without passion, and I could manage to find some spiritual soul food once in a while too—in little bursts of inspiration and joy doing something I loved with someone I love.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the record skipped. The rhythm was distorted and unfamiliar. Soon, it stopped completely. I was terrified.

At first, I had so many questions racing through my head. How would I be able to work? How would I find time and supplies to feed my kids? When would I clean my house when everyone was always IN it? I had big, existential questions about the future of the human species and tiny, insignificant questions about which show to binge next on Netflix. I had so many questions, and no one was able to answer any of them. No one seemed to know anything at all!

With bone-chilling fear, I realized I had only myself to turn to for answers. I felt an instant need to get my “God” fix. Whenever something is hard and I need to think, I go to my connection points—head to the beach, lay in the sun, spend time with a loved one, go for a great meal. But now, I couldn’t do any of those things. The things I needed to connect, to soothe, and to be inspired were gone.

Upon this realization, I climbed into bed and didn’t come out for 24 hours. I cried, I slept, and I grieved for the life I knew—a life where I was in the rhythm and getting by. A life where I was feeding my spiritual needs in little drops and expecting to find joy around a corner I could never find.

Don’t get me wrong—I was happy. I was fine. I was mostly content. But now? I have many moments of pain, of anxiety, and fear—but I have also found joy. So much joy.

I have found new and exciting ways to find connection in this time. It’s taken a few weeks to gain some level of confidence in my ability to survive, but now I often feel like I will make it to see tomorrow without too much concern. So, I’ve moved on from worrying about surviving to focusing my attention on building my level of joy and my increased reliance on myself for the answers—all answers.

Time has slowed waaaay down, and sometimes it feels nourishing and comfortable, while other times it is terrifying and infuriating. But the one thing I know for sure is that I am more alive than I’ve ever been. I am feeling everything—because we have been robbed of almost every distraction available—and it’s quite apparent that I may have been living before—but I was hardly ever really alive.

About the Author
Cheryl Rosenberg lives in Englewood, NJ where she is a councilmember representing Ward 1 and a member of Kehilat Kesher Synagogue. Cheryl is the senior director of marketing and communications for Prizmah: Center for Jewish day Schools and is the immediate past president of Ben Porat Yosef in Paramus. She is an executive board member of Teach NJS, a leadership councilmember of the Jewish New Teach Project, a recent graduate of the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program, and a long-time activist in the areas of civil liberties, equality, and women’s rights.