While the end of the school year signals the transition to summer, this year it also signals the transition to something deeper – living life ‘in person’ again – or as colleagues have said to me recently, figuring out how to ‘people’ again.
While some of us might be thinking we are going back to how things were pre-COVID, and it might even look that way – hugging, kissing, standing close, gathering mask-less and sometimes even inside – there is a lot more happening under the surface.
Some of us might have grown accustomed to not touching and being touched. We may find the assumed ‘hug and kiss’ an intrusion on our personal space. Others might be experiencing a little bit of PTSD and wondering…is COVID really over? How will the Delta variant affect our families and community? And still others might find ourselves moved, almost to tears, at the idea that we can see our loved ones again.
Any major transition like this one, from lockdown to re-engagement, from relative isolation to robust interactions, requires a moment of pause. And rituals help us lean into that pause.
Rituals can express in movement, song, rhythm and gesture the world of meaning that simple words might not be able to adequately express.
During Covid many of us became well-versed in creating new rituals. Reality compelled innovation. You may remember:
The High School principal who visited each graduating senior in 2020.
The mourner who held shiva over Zoom, enabling an international group to gather and offer their condolences.
The daughter who set up a long table in the backyard of her father’s home to enable three generations to gather for a socially distanced Passover seder.
The citizen who offered a spontaneous shehechiyanu (prayer of thanksgiving) after receiving her vaccine.
Now that we move into a new phase of living alongside the virus, with more and more people vaccinated, I invite you to think about how you want to mark the next moments:
1. Of seeing a friend in person that you have not seen in a long time
2. Of traveling somewhere new
3. Of gathering with friends or colleagues in person for the first time
4. Of entering sacred spaces mask-less again
While there are many resources from traditional Jewish sources – like the prayer for overcoming an ordeal, called birkat ha-gomel and other traditional prayers for thanksgiving and hearing good news, there are other resources that have been created that relate directly to our COVID realities. Have a look at them to get your juices flowing.
Here’s another one: a friend, Rabbi Bill Berk, recently created a community-wide ritual to remove face masks. He had the whole congregation tie them together creating a web of connection. The message that that which was once used to distance one from the other was now used to connect us all, was not lost on anyone. It might be nice to add this ritual to the next time you gather with family and friends.
When we pay attention to the exquisite uniqueness of the moment we model for our children that time is not iterative, and a mass of ‘sameness’, day in and day out. Living alongside the pandemic when so many people have been vaccinated requires us to pause and take stock and offer gratitude.
With blessings for the journey,
Ps. Add Becoming a Soulful Parent to your summer reading list and gift one to a friend! For a limited time, we have a special summer offer – $13.00 for one book and $24.00 for two! Check it out here!