Turning Inwards Looking Outwards

Guest post from my better half, Stephen Markowitz:

When thinking about immersive experiences we traditionally think about leaving home. We go on shabbatonim, trips to Israel or Poland and we go to summer camp. The key word is we leave. Now we have an immersive experience that is about staying at home. Yet in all other ways it truly is an immersive experience. When Van Gennep and Turner wrote about rites of passage and described the stages of separation, liminality and reintegration, I am not sure they were thinking about this period in our lives. Yet this period of being ‘betwixt and between’ provides us with opportunities that we can explore through this process they described. We have truly been required to separate from so many things we took for granted. Loved ones, going outside, normal work environments and routines, travel and that feeling of knowing what normal is supposed to be. We have also been separated from a feeling of security in our wellbeing. One that we continually ask ourselves to appreciate and yet take for granted.

We are now in this liminal stage of uncertainty. The waters are stormy, there are tremendous challenges and so much is unpredictable. Our home is our ark and our anchor is our immediate loved ones. This period of uncertainty is one that also provides opportunities for learning. We are now starting to appreciate certain things and insights are finding their place within us. Life is fragile – how have I looked after my health? I love (mostly) spending time with my family – how do we keep enjoying being together? There is tremendous economic uncertainty – as a society how will we step up and look after each other? Our relationships are precious and how I appreciate that simple walk outside.

My thoughts now center on reintegration. How do we (hopefully sooner rather than later), transition back into our lives and take these new understandings with us? How do we not lose these rare moments of clarity and wisdom that are finding their place in our hearts and minds?

You may think that it is too early to ask this question. We are all just trying to stay calm and steady and get through. We do not know what tomorrow will bring and it is now about survival. To this I say that if we do this reflectively, after this is behind us, we will forget that which now seems so important. We will not be thinking how to take what is precious now and preserve it for our future. We need to start thinking about that now. What is this period teaching me about the secrets of life and how do I ensure that I take it with me?

This is its own rite of passage: The separation has been imposed on us, this liminal period is offering us its riches, the onus is already on us to think about tomorrow.

Stephen Markowitz

Senior Director of Research
M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education

About the Author
Passionate about her city and her community, Gaby is an advocate for inclusion of children and adults with special needs, for awareness of genetic breast and ovarian cancer amongst Ashkenazi Jews (Knowledge is Power! Saving Lives!) and for a pluralist, inclusive Jerusalem. Gaby is currently the Outreach Associate of The Jerusalem Press Club and a consultant to Beyachad: Empowering Inclusion in Israel. Gaby made aliya from London, England in 1992, celebrates every day of living in Jerusalem with her South African husband and 4 children and dreams of the West End Stage.
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