Posted in Daily Prompt

Tourist

My first thoughts go to the poem by Yehudah Amichai

Tourists
Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel’s Tomb and Herzl’s Tomb
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.

Once I sat on the steps by agate at David’s Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see
that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch
from the Roman period. Just right of his head.” “But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
“You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it,
left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”

I then think about when does one go from a tourist to being someone who is living? What is the change? Can one live and tour at the same time?
I’ve been in the US now for a bit over a month. There are parts of my day that feel like I am living here- going on the bus, the walk to work, getting to certain places. I no longer feel completely overwhelmed every time I walk out the door. But then there are still times that I feel like I am on the outside. I am still seeing things and experiencing things that are reminding me that I am no longer from here, like the weird looks from people when they talk about a popular place, and I have no clue what they are talking about. Or when I still don’t know where the best place to buy things are.
With my work in the hospital I also feel a bit of a tourist. I am a tourist in people’s lives. My day is spent listening to people tell me about themselves; letting me see where they came from; who are the important people; what are their dreams and fears; and what is their relationship to God or a Higher Power. Sometimes they even bring me into their lives and have me pray with them, and I am no longer a tourist in their lives, but a part of their story.
I was recently offered a position in Australia. I think about going there to do this job. Here I will be in a country that I have never been to before. A place that I want to see and want to explore. But at the same time, I am going for a job, and so I need to be as if I am part of the community. I need to become part of the fabric of their every day life, I can’t only be an outsider or a tourist. It is both exciting and terrifying.
Like Amichai,  I feel like the important part are the people along the way that you meet. The ones who are actually living, not just the stones and the streets that have history. By being a tourist we allow ourselves to see things that get lost when we are just living our routine.
What would life be like, if we every so often, took time in our day-to-day life to be a tourist? What would we see? What would we notice? Would life be a bit more interesting?
Posted in Daily Prompt

Awe

Working in the hospital these past couples of weeks, I feel like I am constantly brought to a place of awe.

I’m in awe of the doctors and nurses, and really all of the staff that are able care for all of the patients and their families.

I’m in awe of science and technology that we are able to cure so many diseases; create artifical ways of breathing and pumping blood; able to help people relearn to walk or straighten their body.

I’m in awe of the patients- so many are so strong. So many have amazing stories- which might really be being in awe of people in general,but I guess this is a special situation because even with everything that they are going through they are willing to share their stories and lives.

I’m in awe of the families and friends. They are there by the sides of their loved ones day in and day out. They are giving support, even though the time is just as difficult for them. They are putting their lives on hold. They are supporting someone that is in a weakened state, and might not have support for themselves. They are watching their loved one in pain, without being able to do much of anything.

I am in awe of how quickly relationships can be formed. How just smiling will cause another to smile, or start a converesation. How sometimes people just want someone to listen. How a small gesture can bring another person in close.

Really, if we take a moment and look around the world is quite awesome. I think that it is important to take a moment and sit in awe at the wonders of the world.

 

Posted in Daily Prompt, Dating

Companion

I think that it is fitting, at least for my life, that companion is the word of the day.

For some reason all I can think about today is A. Everything reminded me of him, and I started to miss him, which made me realize that we really did break up. It is clear that we actually broke up. Even though he tells me that he thinks that he made a mistake, he hasn’t tried to get back together with me.

He asked me the other day if I thought he was an idiot for breaking up with me and not trying to do a long distance relationship. Before that he said something about us still talking throughout the year, and just getting back together when I get back- but I brought up the idea of if we are not together than we both need to be ok with the other person dating other people. I told him that I am not going to wait around and I don’t expect him to do so either.  If he wants to be in a relationship, and is ok with just waiting around, then we should just have a long distance relationship, even though it is not ideal.

So, I didn’t give him an answer about if he is an idiot or not. I didn’t think that I could answer that. But thinking about it today (which could be why I am sad) I do think that he is. I think that he talks about wanting to be married, wanting to be in a relationship, wanting true compainionship- saying that he feels all those things for me, but because I am far away he isn’t going to follow through. That even though he thinks that he made a mistake, he won’t try something because of a previous bad relationship- that he constantly tells me this is nothing like. That what we had he hasn’t felt in a very long time…Why would you give up on something that makes you feel good and is exactly what you say you want?!

Part of me still desires him. I miss talking to him. I miss hanging out with him. I miss touching/being touched by him. I miss having someone who just was there because he wanted to be…

But I am now just getting annoyed with him. I am annoyed that he didn’t think that I was worth trying for. I am annoyed that he still talks to me to tell me he thinks he made a mistake, but won’t do anything about it. Even though a week ago I would have said yes if he asked me out again, now I kinda want to say no. Why would I want to go out with someone who doesn’t really want to be with me, even if he says he does? Why would I want to be with someone who at times it feels like he is playing me like a yo-yo (which wasn’t the case when we were dating..)?

Now I can’t tell if I actually feel these things or if I am making myself feel them because the separation hurts….

I’ve been wanting to have a partner,to have compainionship…I had it, and lost it…and I miss it…

Now I need to figure out what to do to have it again. I know I just need to put myself out there again, but the idea makes me even sadder. I really can’t imagine going on a date or meeting someone who would make me feel the way he made me feel.

I guess I just need to hope that it will…if it happened once, it could happen again?

Posted in Life

One Month

It has been a while since I have written. I’ve just been coming home from work so tired, that I couldn’t even think about writing, even though so much has been happening.

It is crazy to me to think that it has been a little over a month since I have returned to the US. I am not sure if it feels like forever ago or very recent. There are parts of my life there that I can’t even imagine. Friends that I would see all the time, I rarely speak to. It is not because of lack of trying, but because of time differences and how much they like speaking not in person. There also the people I would see on Shabbat in shul, but would never see otherwise.

I am not yet living in the city, so it is still hard to find a friends network. I am so tired after work that I just go home, but it also means that I am not meeting people. I know that will happen soon.

I’m not dating A any more,which is actually sad. Although as time goes on, I am ok with it. The less we talk, the less connected I feel to him. I know that at some point I will want to date again. Having never really been in this situation, I don’t know how long to wait to date again. Or what it means that he still talks to me and thinks he made a mistake. I do know that I will not intentionally wait for him. I do not want a year of not dating, because of a “what if”- that I am done with.

And then there is CPE. It is wonderful. Yes, I come home exhausted, but my time int he hospital I am very happy. It is amazing to do something I have been doing, but this time it is actually my job.

Some things are new and different from what I am used to- mainly praying with other people. It is interesting that people just want a prayer, and they want me to make it up. They want to sit at the bed side and hold hands. They believe in something, and beleive that because I am a chaplain that I can create a holy space for that. What I find even more beautiful/touching is after our praying, they want to pray and bless me. They thank God that He sent me to them.

Today was a bit of a difficult day though.In the ICU a patient died. The staff did everything in their power, but he still died. The family was in the space, and the mother was screaming and crying. It was quite intense in the space, and to be honest I didn’t know what to do. I was really happy that two other chaplains were in the space, and I was able to follow them.

Another patient that I actually was in touch with who was supposed to be discharged, signed a DNR yesterday. I was called into her room because she was not doing very well. It was a really interesting experience, because as soon as I walking into the room the husband seemed happy and said “Yes, my chaplain is here. Come and pray with us.” After only meeting them once, I was “his chaplain”. I wish there was more that I could do or something better for me to say. He will lose the love of his life, his partner of 49 years.

I am happy in the hospital, and I try to bring that happiness with me. I love talking to people. I love listening to people. I know that they are all going through a hard time, and I know that there is nothing physical that I can do to help them. But I do know that people need someone who is neutral, someone who is not running around, someone who does not care about their sickness unless they want to share or talk about it,  someone who is calm to just listen to them and to just be there, for them- and that is my job.

I hope that I continue to have the strength throughout the summer. I hope that I will continue to be able to provide the care and compassion. I hope that I will continue to have the energy to bring about warmth and love.

Posted in Daily Prompt, Dating

Connected…Or Not Anymore

We used to be connected. It was something I have never felt before. There was something strange, but nice about it.

There were other times that I was timid. That I was unsure of what to do or say. I was scared of what it would mean if we were more physical or shared more or if I asked you to come to the US with me. I had much less experience than you- in really everything- and that scared me. I didn’t want you to think that I was stupid or not good enough. I didn’t want you to think of me as a little girl.

I know it took me some time to get used to it. There were also times that it felt like we had known each other forever. That I could just be myself. That I could just be there, and not really worry. I was able to actually say what I was thinking and feeling (that was the big one). I was able to look into your eyes and feel the intense connection- feel you looking into my soul, and looking back at you.

My leaving the country was something that was always part of our relationship. It was that thing in the back corner, that we tried to keep pushing away. We knew that I was leaving, and yet, we couldn’t bear to say goodbye to each other, and so we continued to go out. We spoke about the idea of breaking up, but didn’t want to. We felt a strong connection. I felt like saying goodbye was cutting something from me.

It was actually easier to say goodbye than to break up with you. Breaking up with you hurt. After saying it, all I could feel was sad. I was not ready to cut myself off from you. And so we met up again…and broke up another 2 times.

And then I moved. The day we knew would come. And even though you said you were anti-long distance, you still spoke to me. There was something that was still connecting us to one another. We found ways and time to talk to each other. But then we had the idea of not talking for two weeks…

Maybe I should have said no. Maybe I should have disrespected your wishes. But those two weeks are what broke our connection. I felt you pulling away. I knew that you were leaving me- I could feel it. I broke the promise and spoke to you a day early to tell you that I missed you, and I didn’t want to lose you. But the disconnect was already there.

You accepted that I was gone, and it was too much for you to try to stay connected. That isn’t to say that it would have been easy for me. I know that it is hard. It is hard for me not to see you or hold you or be held by you. The time difference is awful, and it would mean waking up early or staying up late or using up my free time just to talk to you. It would mean that any vacation I have would be seeing you somehow. Our connection would have been different, but at least it would still be there.

But now it is cut off. I knew what our conversation would be before we had it today. I could tell that you were cutting yourself off even more. Our conversations were shorter. Trying to talk on the phone took almost a week and a half. I couldn’t feel our connection any more.

I’m sorry it had to happen this way. I’m sorry that I wasn’t stronger to figure out a way to make it work. I’m not mad at you, but I am mad that we couldn’t figure out another way. I am sad that you didn’t feel it great enough to put the effort in. You talk about wanted to be married and how special this was, so it confuses me that you wouldn’t try harder- although I understand why you wouldn’t move half way across the world to be with a girl that you dated for a month, especially when she thought you were crazy for bringing up the idea of marriage already.

.You were really something special, and that I will always remember. And I know that you feel the same way too, even though right now those are not really words of comfort, rather words of pain.  I hope that we are both able to heal after this disconnect. I hope for both of us that either we reconnect or that we are able to find a connection this strong again.

 

 

Posted in Rabbinical School

Imagined Verbatim

Introductory Information

This conversation took place at a table in Starbucks in Fair Lawn, NJ at 7:30pm, between E and God. E has started a CPE program at NYP, where she will be interning as a chaplain. Part of her role is to talk about God and spirituality, both topics/ideas that she does not feel she knows how to talk or start a conversation about.  She decides to talk to God, the one that is going to be a focus of future conversations to see what advice He has in how to hold the conversation about God/higher power/spirit. E is quite nervous at the beginning of the conversation, as she is not used to having a set meeting time with Him being present. She is not always the best at asking for help and is also quite nervous about the concept of her question. As someone who is studying to be a clergy member, it seems like they should be comfortable and knowledgeable in how to have a conversation about/with God, and to create a “holy” space and a space for spirituality. After starting the conversation she becomes more comfortable speaking to God, even though He rarely answered any question, but rather changed body language.  

 

Text of the Verbatim

E: Um…hello, God? So…I’m supposed to have a conversation with You. Well, I am supposed to have conversations about You- or about Higher Powers- or spirituality- or with You but with other people, and I don’t really know how….

 

E: I know I don’t really see myself as someone who is “spiritual”. I pray, but most of the time it is because I feel like I am commanded to. Of course there are times that I do feel something..like that time on the beach in Tel Aviv, or those few times in my apartment…And yes, those times too when something great or weird or bad happens and I am walking alone and I call out to You and say what I want. Or when I am in the shower and I don’t think that anyone else can hear me…

 

E: But how do I have a conversation with someone else? How do I bring that into the conversation? How do I make it a natural conversation, when it is something so unnatural for me to talk about? I have no idea how to start that conversation with someone else. It sounds strange to me to ask a question about “seeing” or “feeling” God. Especially because I am not always so sure that I see or feel or know that You exist. I know I am supposed to- especially because I am becoming a rabbi, but the best I can do is say that I want to or I try to believe. I know that I try to believe that things happen for a reason, that there is some logic to the chaos of life- otherwise the world is too painful. Although there are times that believing that is actually more painful, because why would there be so much suffering in the world then?

 

E: Yes, I know, I am going on a tangent. So talking to people. Yes, I know it is something I know how to do. I know that I am someone that people turn to to share things with, even people I just met. I know that people look to me to have conversations about You and religion, they have for years now.

 

E: Yes, I know- I was able to have those conversations. I was able to listen. But here is different. There, they came to me. They found me and started talking, here I am going to them. There I met them before, I might not have been friends with them, but they were friends of friends. They knew who I was, here are complete strangers. Here are complete strangers that are going through a really tough time, because why else would they be in the hospital- and they are going to talk to me?! Do You really think that I have the words that will be able to help them? Do I have the ears to really listen to what they are saying and to find out what they need and want? Do I have the strength to hold their troubles and help them rebundle them to continue on? Are they really going to look at me like I am someone worth talking to? Aren’t I too young and inexperienced?

 

E: Yes, I know- I spoke to lots of people many years older than me and their children. Yes, I was the person that they trusted to talk to about their fears of getting older, hopes of death, fear of their parent’s getting sicker, the toll it was taking on them and their families. Ok, fine, so I did some of it already- but that was different. I knew them, I was with people for long periods of time. The workers knew me. The other residents knew me. The other families knew me. There was a point of familiarity- and again it wasn’t my job. Yes, I never wanted to say something that would be hurtful. But I could always pass them off to the social worker. I mean, if something was said I had to pass it off to a social worker.

 

E: Ok fine, so I know how to do the talking and listening. I am coming from a background of text. I am coming from sitting and learning and pouring over writings about You, writings of law. I know about traditional Jewish ritual. I know about praying three times a day, saying psalms in times of crisis, washing hands, what to do when a meat spoon falls into a dairy pot, how to how “clean days”, how to perform a wedding and a funeral. But what about talking about you, God? What about creating prayer? What about creating a space of holiness? What about really acting as a member of clergy and carrying that responsibility? How do I do that?

 

Reflections and Evaluation

I came to think about some of my fears of starting to actually work with people in the capacity of chaplain. I think there are many skills that I already have, but there are many that I also do not. I know  there are many things that people enjoy or find spiritually moving, but I do not.  It will be a challenge for me to try to bring that to people, or to figure out how to bring what I know/feel am good at in order for there to be a meaningful pastoral experience between myself and the patient/family. I think I need to look more into ideas of what is prayer and how to create prayer, as well as the creation/holding of “holy” space. This summer is also my last summer as a student, and thinking about the idea that in a very short amount of time I will actually be looked at as someone to turn to and actually be working in a field that I have been training in for the past 6 years. Even though I already answer questions and work with people, I have the ability to say that I am a student, but in a very short time I will actually be a rabbi, and I feel like I will have to have more ownership over what I say to other people. Even though I have been part of rabbinic teams before, I feel like here has higher stakes.