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Good News

Beginning a post with the title “good news” seems almost offensive right now.

The world is at war; hate and violence are rampant and the possibility of coming together, finding solutions and living in peace, seem almost non-existent.

People are taking sides, becoming righteous and indignant and refusing to listen.

College campuses, the places where we send our children for advanced learning, no longer feel safe for everyone.

Many of us are feeling isolated, scared, unsupported and very much alone.

Where do we go for comfort? For stability? For a show of solidarity?

In dark times like these, I turn to Pema Chodron who writes “ things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen:; room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

These words seem so spot on right now; the truth is that things don’t really get solved. We’ve seen the same issues, the same confrontations for so long that it’s exhausting.

But the promise that healing comes from letting there be room for all of it; including grief, relief, misery and joy also feels important to take in.

I desperately want to be open to joy and good news.

The challenge is to look for it; to see it; to believe in it.

I remember during Covid a brilliant journalist determined that what was needed in the world, in the midst of all of the horrible, scary, depressing stories, was the reporting of good news. I loved that he created such a program and when I watched the stories of kind deeds, uplifting arts performances, heartfelt connections and loving gestures, I felt calmer and began to believe that we would make it through the pandemic and even become stronger because of it.

I’ve decided that for the next few weeks I will only write about what makes my heart sing; what brings tears of joy to my eyes again and what surprises me with hope and depth.

I heard a story this week that did exactly that; it warmed my heart and allowed me to believe in goodness.

My son is a rabbi at a congregation in Connecticut, about an hour from where we lived when he was growing up.

He got a phone call from a woman claiming to be his first grade teacher. Shocked and skeptical, my son picked up the phone and heard the distinctive voice of the amazing woman who taught him to read and write.

Indeed it was his extraordinary first grade teacher. I remember going to back to school night and being mesmerized by the Bob Dylan posters all over the room.When I picked my son up from school the kids would standing on their chairs belting out Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone, an apt reminder that we are more alike than we are different and that acceptance really is the cure for what divides us.

She was special, and so was my son. At 6, he was reading The NY Times and espousing theories about how to make the world a better place. His teacher had never forgotten him and when Israel was terrorized on October 7 and she experienced sadness, fear and disillusionment about the world, any prospective for peace, and she decided to look him up. She didn’t know that he had become a rabbi, but said that she knew he would be doing something important in the world.

When she learned he was a rabbi, it felt “bashert”(meant to be) that she had reached out. A devout Catholic, she wanted to better understand the situation in Israel. She and my son spoke on the phone for an hour, he the teacher and she the student. The roles were reversed as she asked questions about what was happening in Israel, interested in learning the facts, the nuances, the devastation and the possible solutions. She wanted, she said, to learn to be an ally.

When he shared this poignant tale with me, I wept.

I wept in memory of those glorious early days of parenting, when my world revolved so completely around my babies and life was simple and full.

I wept in recognition of what a humble, engaged and committed human being this woman still is and the knowledge that there are countless other decent, loving people in the world, interested in learning about and understanding different people, cultures, religions and issues.

I wept with pride that my first born is is now teaching others, including his former teacher, with intelligence and compassion, about what matters most to him.

I wept in appreciation for all educators who have played such an important role in the education of our children.

I wept with hope that sweet moments are always possible, that deeper connection is always within reach and that the love that exists in this world is evident everywhere we look.

I wept because even with all the negative, hateful and sickening stories out there, there still can be good news.

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