The staff from my surgicenter are getting together tonite for a belated holiday party. As usual I will be asked to say a few words to the staff and their partners who will be there. I hope that those in attendance will have had something to drink before I begin. I don’t dislike offering an impromptu toast or speech but I know I will sound better if they have.
I will keep it light. I will offer my deepest appreciation for all their extraordinary efforts during the storm, and the loss of power and chaos that ensued. I will ask that while we are enjoying ourselves and celebrating our renewal that we not forget our friends and neighbors in the Garden State who are still suffeirng badly. I will point out that the hotel in which we are standing was closed for many weeks because of damage.
But Kabbalistic themes are never far from my thoughts. They deal with creation and destruction. They speak of the myth of creation from the perspectives of the mystics who read the sacred writings with their own eyes. They speak of the multiple universes that God created and destroyed before deciding that this one was “good”. They write of the destruction of this universe soon after it was formed, of the tzimtzum, the chaos that followed when the divine energy could not be contained by matter and the vessels shattered. Of the hidden sparks of divinity that surround us, are us. Of the need to assist in the repair of this world. Of our role in the process by which tikkun operates. Fixing, repairing, search and rescue, liberating holy sparks that lay covered by debris. The debris is us, the physical world that can alternate between beauty and horrific ugliness. Can be find the holy sparks amidst tragedy? Can we ever raise a glass in celebration when the lifeless bodies of the innocent children of New Port have so recently re-joined the earth?
All this is way too heavy for a holiday party.
But destruction and renewal are a part of all of our lindividual ives, as well as the universe itself. But finding joy amidst chaos is a human quality as well. In our lives we bounce between joy and sadness. We are manic-depressives, all of us. Many of us have difficulty getting unstuck when the darkness is so overwhelming. But we need to recognize this paradox, this ultimate mystery.
In times of joy we shatter the glass to remind ourselves of destruction. But we cannot allow joyous times to pass unappreciated. They are rare and precious and they are to be acknowledged.
When in the midst of the chaos we need to raise the vessel we have fixed and say “L’Chaim”– to life.