“Two things kill the soul, ” she teased. “Two things that we all know… Can you guess?”
Rabbi Naomi Levy knows how to work a crowd with a skillful mix of familiarity and authority.
“Indifference,” she called out. “Indifference is a killer.”
“The second, ” she told us, “The second is despair.”
I sat, and I listened. And I thought about the ways in which her sermon was speaking to me. I thought about birds falling from the sky, and fish gasping in the sea. I thought about the little girl with the short, hopeful life bookended by violence. I thought about the woman of blessing and wisdom and musical beauty who, in that moment, was fighting for her life. I thought about the ways in which I have wronged and been wronged. I thought about how I have known indifference and I have known despair.
I felt the tears slowly find my cheeks. A release. Finally, when the tears come, we know it’s time to let go.
How do we brave compassion and empathy when indifference keeps us safe? How do we spark momentum when despondency has settled in?
Rabbi Levy’s assessment helped me to see. It doesnt matter how. There is no hope of living if our soul is lifeless. I have seen the chosen lifestyle of indifference and despair. It kills a person steadily, and ever so slowly. Peeling off skin layer by layer until the damaged, broken, begging parts that make us human, that we exhausted our life trying to protect, have no where left to hide.
Anger fights indifference.
Courage overpowers despair.
The fear, that lives in both, is the familiar stranger whom we might as well welcome in, because actually, she’s already here.
~with loving hope, anger and courage, jrb