During our last evening in Philadelphia, a massive storm hit our geographical area. Even before the rain poured down, an unexpected gush of wind caused the electricity to go out. Within seconds, hail fell from the sky. The storm was over in minutes, but the aftermath was astounding.
Throughout Elkins Park, large trees were split in two. Branches strewn about. A tree damaging a neighborhood home. Electricity yet to be restored. Such a quick storm, so much clean up waiting to take place.
As I looked at some of the irreparable harm, I thought about inflicted wounds between people, behaviors caused in seconds, lifetimes spent cleaning up the damage. Words of unacceptance, emotional abuse, rejection, the shutting down of someone’s experience or intended path. Giving the cold shoulder, deflating an idea, ignoring instead of inquiring. Our actions often feel minimal. “I barely said a thing. What did I say?” And yet, it’s the quick shut of a door that causes the loudest reverberations. A blur of words and bout of anger; a passing storm that feels impossible to forget.
Perhaps you remember the Hasidic story of the man that is told to repent for his gossiping. The rabbi asks him to take a pillow into the middle of the city, tear open the pillow and let the feathers within fly all over the town. The man abides and returns after the completed task. The rabbi smiles and responds, “Now…go and collect the feathers.” The man is dumbfounded, knowing the secondary task is impossible. One word, action, tear of the pillow, a quick, thundering storm.
Be aware of the hailstorms created with even one block of ice. Like a splitting tree, our words and actions hold the power to destroy. But miraculously, just like the sun after blinding rain, we also hold the gift to replenish and seeds to restore.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.