When bad news seems to be all around us, with new and terrible events occurring back-to-back, it’s difficult to remain happy and upbeat. The following guest post offers a unique perspective on how to find hope and healing after tragedy.
After coming home from the concluding services of Yom Kippur, our most holy day in the Jewish faith, I began to ponder what the next chapter of my life would bring.
I am always trying to figure out how I got to where I am today and where I may go tomorrow. What roads will I walk, what mountains will I climb, what rivers will I dare to cross? And, when I stumble and fall, will I be brave enough to get back up?
These thoughts tumbled abound in my head for the next day or so. And then, as if I was struck in the face by an open hand, my ears burned and my head began to spin with the horrible news of the tragedies of Las Vegas. How could thousands of innocent people be in the middle of a concert, no longer full of music but filled instead with the sounds of spraying bullets and screams?
What is happening to the world I once knew? It just didn’t seem real. I had to sit. I had to think. I had to cry. I had to pray.
I managed to get to my office, numb and still in shock. I poured a cup of coffee, took a seat at my desk and turned on the computer. And, before I could even catch my breath, I heard the somber news of the passing of one of my most beloved artists, Tom Petty. His music wrapped a ribbon around my family since before my kids were born. They grew up singing his songs and being inspired by his message.
My mind began to peddle faster and faster. What would the future bring with all this chaos, death, and sadness that we all seem to be bombarded with? The lump in my throat sat on my vocal cords, paralyzing me. My heart was broken. It was a very long and difficult day.
Then, as if to speak to me and steer me in the right direction, as I was driving home that evening, I saw one of the biggest, fullest moons of my entire life. It was smiling down on me from the vast space we call the sky. In that moment, I felt complete gratitude and an overwhelming sense of peace.
The moon reminded me of the cycle of life. Renewed each month, only to fade and disappear, just like the lives of so many people we once knew and in some sense, the reality of what the world once was for all of us. I thought of all those individuals whose moon will never renew, whose lives have been cut short, whose destinies have been interrupted by evil.
As I continued to search the sky for things that made sense, the more confused I became. The stars, the wind, the seas and mountains; I tried to understand the catastrophes of nature. In the last several months, we have seen terrible storms destroy homes and lives. Why, oh why, is this happening…
Are we on a path of destruction, filled with selfishness, violence and carelessness? And if we are, perhaps a new moon may not arise again for any of us?
It then occurred to me that there has to be a reason why things happen in the order that they do. There has to be a reason why at the end of a month of tragedy, senseless loss and destruction, we can still be inspired by a full moon and the renewal that it symbolizes. So, while we are not entirely safe and while I fear for my children and others, I have decided that the renewal of the soul cannot be deadened by a weapon, a hurricane, an earthquake, or the death of a beloved artist.
I will continue to pray, to be an inspiration to myself and those around me, and try to be a ribbon of trust, hope, and safety around all that I love. I will stand up to this hate and violence and I will always carry the message of Tom Petty, may he rest in peace: “Well, I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down.You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”
About the Author:
Stacey Marcus is living a life that she loves, due to the people and experiences that she has been blessed with. Throughout her life, Stacey has been involved with a variety of Jewish organizations, including serving on the executive board of two synagogues, volunteering with various Jewish outreach programs, including Chabad’s Friendship Circle, (a special needs children’s program), for which she was presented an outstanding community achievement award. Stacey has routinely volunteered for the elderly and those with special needs. Over the last several years, thanks to the encouragement of some amazing women, Stacey has become involved with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and is now leading trips for other women going to Israel. She blogs regularly at Stacey Inside Out.