From their marriage in 1921, they would have seen great economic and social advances (the mass production of cars, proliferation of radios, refrigerators and electricity) followed by a decade of economic destruction during the Great Depression. Then World War—their son sent to Europe to fight the Nazis while so many of their extended family perished in the Holocaust. The Cold War. Fear of Nuclear Obliteration. Measles and Polio outbreaks.The death of their son from cancer at thirty-nine and then my grandfather at an early age. The marriage of their daughter; the birth of four grandchildren and then great grandchildren. Just one family’s journey through the peaks and valleys of life.
The time we find ourselves in is stressful and unique in cause, but I believe we also have been given a great opportunity. Most all of us know the Biblical story of creation, and that the Creator “rested” on the seventh day. In the original Hebrew of the Torah (Old Testament), the root of the verb describing God’s setting aside the seventh day is normally translated as “rest”. But what the Hebrew means is “to pause” or “to cease”. In the pause generated by the light of the candles, the words of Bill Halamandaris (a close family friend) came to me:
“Adversity introduces us to our true selves. We gain courage with every fear we face, strength with every challenge we meet and confidence with every obstacle we overcome.”
With the coronavirus, we are all experiencing a forced pause in normal life. Provided we and our loved ones maintain our health, maybe the pause
the blessing. Perhaps you know people who have lost jobs or have loved ones in the hospital or Assisted Living Facilities with whom they cannot visit. Imagine what 150 million U.S. households could do to lift our collective spirit if each of us did just one thing a day or performed a random act of kindness. That’s 150 million blazing, vibrant, shining lights.
We have so many blessings; to live in this amazing country either because of the accident of birth or because we left our native shores and came here to start anew. Here are some ideas:
- Help someone just laid off make a rent payment.
- Think of a person you can help pay for food.
- Send somebody who may be unable to leave their home (but has a computer) things to do. Maybe funny YouTube videos to watch or an online game you both can play.
- supportlocal.usatoday.com: Launched by Gannett Newspapers (owns the Florida Times Union and 260 other local newspapers) to help communities support local small businesses.
- unitedwaynefl.org/first-coast-relief-fund-re-activates-for-covid-19-response: Direct support to Northeast families who need everything from food to financial support. This is a combined initiative of The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, United Way of both Northeast Florida and St Johns County, and the Jewish Foundation Federation and Foundation.
- Purchase a gift card to your favorite local restaurant.
- Engage your children and adult grandchildren. Who do they know who have been laid off from work and don’t have family support on which they can rely?
Stay safe and healthy. I firmly believe that like in an actual war, we will want to be able to look back at these times and proudly tell our children and grandchildren what it was like. More importantly, perhaps we can tell them what we individually did to improve the situation and contribute to the vibrant future that will be upon us before we know it.