Johnny Cash and a small town in Southern New England ...
You know you're a musician when you're picking someone up at your local train station late at night, you hear the whistle in the distance, and all you can think of is this. I really do live in a small town.
I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."
I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.
And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?
Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.
Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?
Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision.
Even בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).
You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18) You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34) And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)
If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.
It's the same with love.
Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.
Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.
Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.