For the first time in recent memory, perhaps the first time in my life, I feel helpless.  I see the headlines of horror telling what is happening in this world, and I honestly have no good response–no good answers.

I see the shootings, I see the wars, I see the refugees, I see the hunger, I see the poverty, I see the illness…and I don’t know what to do.

I mean, I act.  I see what’s going on and I go into motion.  I lobby.  I teach. I sign letters.   I write letters.  I make posts.  I give donations.  I raise money.  I pray.  And while I don’t believe in an interventionist diety (at least not today, my personal theology is subject to change), I still pray–in part because it serves as an internal reminder to act.  To do something.  But then I come back to the same helpless feeling of not knowing what to do.

Too many people are dying.  Too many people are suffering.  And no matter what I do, it doesn’t feel like enough.

I remember my idealism of younger years, in which I felt I could make a difference.  I want that back.  I want to really believe that, “You and I can change the world,” and that even if I can’t change the whole world, if I change my corner, it will make a real difference.

But that is so, so hard to believe these days.

Tonight, I facilitated a discussion of adults about how we balance the communal and personal needs of worship and prayer.  Based on reading from Making Prayer Real, we concluded with an exercise of writing our own psalms.  The exercise in the book focused on yearning, but I left the instruction open to those in the class.  And those who shared had written beautiful texts of internal prayer.  I didn’t share mine, but it was a text of yearning, although I did not expect it to be.

It was a text of wanting what I had once felt.  In retrospect, it was a psalm, a poem, a prayer, which expressed my internal need for connection–for the ability to see the world and to do something.  And for that action to have meaning.

I want to change the world.  I want to take action that matters.  I want my prayer to call me to further action that makes a difference.  I want to have back that feeling that those things that I do actually change the world.

And I need to believe in a world where that is possible.  I need to.  It is so hard.  And every horrific story of death and destruction and bad things happening makes it so much harder.  But I keep trying.

And even in these moments of great doubt, at least I can doubt.  And at least I can be angry at that doubt and angry at this world and shed tears and offer primal screams at the horror around me.

And, in the dark moments, I can see a look of pure joy on the face of a child.  And I can hear squeals of glee in those children.  And listen to adults offer pure and personal insights into the nature of worship.  And taste the first bite of latke in this season of miracles and light.

And maybe, from those moments, I can grasp onto hope.  I need to.  Because I don’t like being hopeless.  And I need to keep trying–even when I don’t feel like anything I do is enough.

Because, at some point, it needs to be.  Because it’s all I can do.  And, really, I have to believe that the world was made with the ability to heal…With the ability of us to heal it.


About rabbiisa

I'm a Reform Rabbi with a passion for education! I'm also a pop culture fan, political junkie, and NY Times crossword puzzle addict. I am INTP, a proud member of Red Sox Nation, and a fan of the Oxford Comma.

2 responses »

  1. Mark Delmerico says:

    War against ISIL/ISIS, Syrian refugees, and here in the US…. poverty, hunger, etc…. we can have little to do locally. Here, in the Wilmington metropolitan area we can do significant work to reduce the killings and unparalleled crime in the city of “Killmington”.
    Kevin Kelley, a good friend of mine, is again running for Mayor.
    It is clearly a time for a new deal in the Wilmington metropolitan area.
    Wilmington City Council for 20 years, Kevin Kelley lost in the last Democratic primary election 38% to 28%, an upset.
    While chairing the Public Safety Committee, he developed key relationships with the uniformed services….. police and fire.
    As Director of Management and Budget at the largest department in state government, Health and Social Services, he is very knowledgeable about issues of budget and finance.
    This coming secular calendar year we can do much to improve the “big picture” in the City and surrounding area which has for 3+ years now been plagued with an unparalleled heroin and crack cocaine drug epidemic, gun violence, killings, and general mismanagement of City funds.

  2. rabbiisa says:

    I agree that there is much to do locally, and that the local impact by action and advocacy can be palpable. There is much work to be done here in Wilmington–and work that, I believe, can create real and necessary change in what is a wonderful city. One of my big take-aways from my time in San Antonio was the importance of local advocacy; I think growing up in the suburbs of NJ, and spending so much of my life in the NYC area (where local politics means something entirely different) I didn’t fully appreciate that.

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