“My solitude is killing me in this coronavirus era,” a friend wrote to me yesterday.
Another pal emailed me his concerns about his mother who “will be celebrating Passover alone this year, for the first time.”
The most agonizing correspondence was from a dear congregant who called me crying that he could not find solace after watching his father die alone, and then, be buried alone. “I don’t understand how a person who was kind to so many thousands of people, could die all by himself like this,” he lamented.
His cry permeated my heart. And although we, finite beings, cannot always understand the infinite God and His mysterious ways, we must ask ourselves: What is the lesson here? And what can be done to bring light in such a dark world, hope in moments of despair, and joy and life in the face of sadness and death?
Perhaps, the answer lies in one fundamental idea: what we see is not what there is. Yes, our physical senses may help us perceive aspects of our reality. But there is so much that exists beyond all that we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch.
This coronavirus era has, in many ways, demonstrated the unreliability of our physical senses. After all, they have betrayed so many of us profoundly, for what they perceived as certain — our wellbeing, our jobs, our future — has become so uncertain. And what they thought was true, has been revealed has so untrue.
And suddenly, we have come to the realization that the only senses that are reliable and trustworthy are our spiritual and intangible senses. Such as our ability to love. Or, our power to care. Or, our duty to be kind and compassionate. Or, our capacity to have faith in the One Above, and in ourselves.
Astonishingly, it is those spiritual senses that can also help us cope with our apparent solitude. For, our spiritual senses know that solitude is but an illusion, and we are never truly alone.
When we found ourselves “alone” at home, God is with us.
When we are forced to celebrate Passover — or any other special occasion — “alone,” the love and affection of our loved ones, still enwrap us.
When people die “alone”, their good deeds and many merits are with them.
And when people are buried “alone,” scores of angels accompany them from this world to the next.
In the saintly words of the Psalmist (Psalm 7-10): “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”
May our spiritual senses guide us always. And may they continue to teach us to see the unseen, hear the unheard, taste the intangible, and smell the ethereal. Amen.