Summer of love. . .

Peace and love

Surely not this year.

This too long swath of time, days sheltered at home, work and play in place, friends and family consigned to little boxes on my iPad. Oh, to grab a coffee and catch up, to see a smiling face, to hug a little one close.

So it has been, too many days in front of a screen, too many hours in the company of those ersatz faces, too much conversation over Zoom.

And yet, the time has strengthened and renewed my family relationships, concern for each other drawing us closer. More texts, more messages, more talk.
It’s deepened my appreciation of the precious gift of human connection, with a husband whose company I cherish, with distant friends and family who have been part of my life in so many meaningful ways, and, even, with myself.

It’s been time to reflect, especially now in the midst of the Jewish month of Elul, and I am looking back over the past year, and the past COVID months, with immense gratitude.

With life interrupted, there are empty spaces to fill, permission to let go of the compulsion to do, to just be.

To read, to listen, to learn, to think, to grow. To mull over words, sentences, ideas, to turn them over, and over again, to let them lie fallow until they might give rise to a new or different way of seeing things. Or at the very least to an awareness that there is not just one way to see things but many.

And so, I sought out a plentitude of resources, just a click bringing renowned scholars and rabbis into my home. They drew on ancient sources and new, more contemporary ones, exploring difficult issues, parsing thought provoking questions and raising even more to consider in those quiet spaces.

It has been a vibrant few months, even in the dead of summer in Phoenix.

Especially now, as the country is roiled by issues of racism and inequality, while it is ever more divided and polarized as the presidential election nears, as Israel has become a wedge issue for so many, I needed to hear from a multiplicity of voices to try to make sense of who I was and where I stand.

And I needed to make sense of who others are and where they stand also.

To allow even a corner of my mind for seemingly heretical thoughts and opinions, as Yossi Klein Halevi suggests. To practice radical listening, at Micah Goodman’s urging, actively listening to those I may see as being on the other side. And seeking to find a balance between personal integrity and the imperative to speak out and communal good which might at times suggest otherwise.

Tough judgments to make, but surely worthy of thought. And listening.

So I am looking forward to a new year of lessened social distancing and more social connection, of more expansive reading and less narrow thinking, of less anger and more respect, of less fervor and more humility, of less enmity and more empathy.

And moving ever closer to making real God’s aspiration, and mine, of a summer, a year, of peace and love.

About the Author
A writer and editor, Vicki has been recognized for excellence by the American Jewish Press Association, Arizona Press Club and Arizona Press Women. Her byline has appeared for more than 30 years in Jewish News of Greater Phoenix and in a variety of other publications. A Wexner Heritage Scholar, she holds masters degrees in communications and religious studies from Arizona State University and a Ph.D in religious studies also from ASU.
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