“From the narrow places I called out, ‘Yah’, and I was answered with expansiveness” (Psalm 118).
Oh, how the last year has felt constraining and narrow. Stuck in our homes, many of us have spent the time alone or in small pods. We’ve missed hugs from loved ones and our grandchildren’s first words. There are those whom we will never hug again. Amidst the hyper-connected world, we’ve realized just how alone and isolated we have been, even before the pandemic.
But we’ve also reached an important point societally in the journey and trauma of this pandemic – we’ve, by and large, stopped telling people when we’re asked how we are, “I’m doing fine.” We’ve begun to open ourselves to the world, not always out of choice, but by necessity and by deep longing for the other. Our tradition teaches us that the brokenness can be a place of great beauty, because we’re often fully present with ourselves in those moments. To cry out is the most primal of those actions, to say “I need help” or “I really miss you” or “I really need a break – can you watch the kids?”. It’s precisely in those moments, our psalmist teaches us in this verse from Hallel, that we are answered by expansiveness.
When we allow our lives to be touched by someone else’s, for those moments we are connected to something much deeper and more expansive than we had realized previously. We are all part of the One, connected in holiness and love and our shared humanity. All we need to do is remember, as the great Carol King once sang, “all you need to do is call, and I’ll be there. ‘Cause you’ve got a friend.”
Enjoy my setting of Min Hameitzar from Psalm 118 (below), and please join us at our Passover gathering after the second seder, coming together in community to lift us out of the narrow place, if even for a few moments.
Rabbi Sam Blustin