At Shabbat service this past Friday, during the silent prayer, I was thought about how much has happened this year and all of the changes that have occurred. A year ago I was feeling lonely and isolated because of the pandemic, frustrated and overwhelmed by all the changes, and worried. But as I looked up at the ner tamid in Stern Chapel, I realized that my faith and role in the community has changed significantly:
- I’ve been attending Friday night services every week since August, except for the Friday my mom had surgery. I was sitting in the very back, but a few weeks ago I started sitting closer to the bimah and now I am usually in the third or fourth row. Sometimes I sit with friends, but, more often than not, I’m sitting alone. In years past, I avoided services precisely because I didn’t want to sit alone and stick out like a sore thumb, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. That time is precious and brings me solace and that’s enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather sit with friends, but I’m really okay sitting by myself now.
- I was able to confide in people I trusted about how I was feeling and how scared I was without hesitation. When my mom got the cancer diagnosis, I immediately texted five people that have helped me and support me in ways that they probably don’t even know.
- I had to step away from some professional opportunities and positions so I could focus on taking care of my mom and I worried that it would hurt my career. Since then I’ve realized how much I had taken on because I felt like I had to prove myself to gain respect and credibility, which is dumb. Instead of my career taking a hit, I’ve been able to refocus on what I’m truly passionate about and have been tapped for other leadership roles that I never thought would be open to me, plus now I’m doing some contract work, which is also something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do.
- One of my favorite parts of Temple is the pecan grove that sits on the south side of the campus. The bus stop is right there, so when I step off the bus, I’m able to walk through the trees and I also take walks through the grove during the work day. I’ve also picked up a lot of pecans and eaten them while thinking of my grandma. She had pecan trees in front of her house and we always picked baskets of them and cracked them open on the front porch. It is just a lovely combination of things that are an important part of who I am and that bring me peace and I’m grateful for that.