Irma and Jonah


Friday Morning, 9.8.17  Pre Irma

We sit and we sit and we sit. And personally I can’t sleep (not for long anyways) even though the hurricane shutters have cut off the light that normally seeps in through the blinds. I want to write that it is the hardest part, this waiting, this watching, this constant listening to the weather experts trying to figure out where will Irma turn, what is its path, how strong the winds, and how much more should we be doing to prepare. But as of today, I don’t know and I’m not in control, not of much anyway. Tomorrow and the day after will tell the story and looking back we will know more than we know now.

Saturday Morning 9.9.17

We know more. We know that Irma’s projected track has shifted. Good news for us on the Southeast Coast of Florida, bad news for the Keys and Fort Myers. There is a sense of relief but the 24 hour TV coverage keeps pushing the point: Don’t let your guard down. You may be out of the cone for now but just as it turned once it can turn again and the associated winds and rain are not to be taken lightly. The quote that resonates with me today is from the Kabbalah. (Full disclosure I saw it in a thank you note from the URJ.) “This world is a raging ocean and you should imagine yourself always in a ship at sea.” As someone with a phobia about getting sea sick, the imagery speaks to me. The deck is constantly shifting beneath our feet. We don’t feel it every day; we can’t; we wouldn’t be able to put one foot in front of another. That’s where trust and faith come in. Trust that we have made wise decisions and done what we can do to contain the chaos; faith that it will be “ok”; we will be “ok” and we will weather whatever comes.

Tuesday … Damage Assessment

We were very lucky. Our house seems to be on a grid that rarely loses power. So we were able to come back and have lights, air conditioning and the ability to recharge our devices. (Not everyone is so fortunate.)  Lost some screen panels around our pool; lost Cable and Internet, which turns out to be a surprisingly annoying piece of the puzzle. But on the good side, our grandson Jacob talked me through making my phone a hot spot both for my ability to connect to the outside world  and to watch some mindless shows using Apple TV. Who knew I was so dependent on filling time with such gratuitous entertainment? (That is kind of embarrassing to admit.)

Back to “lucky”. Or were we very blessed? It is hard for me to use that term in this context because does that mean that those who were in the more direct path of Irma were “cursed”? There is an implicit theology here that doesn’t sit well with me, although the biblical prophets would have bought into it. The God I believe in doesn’t direct storms, earthquakes, floods or any other natural disaster to chastise or instruct the people of Houston, Mexico, or Florida. The God I believe in is found in our ability to ask, what does this teach us. Does it instruct us to find love of neighbor and caring for the stranger in our responses? To reflect on our relationship with this planet that lives and breathes and twirls and swirls and reacts in a variety of ways to how we use or abuse our relationship with it. To act responsibly for the future and not ignore what our best scientific minds our telling us about Global Warming. To build our buildings to withstand the winds of the new reality and create an infrastructure that is less vulnerable to what nature can bring.

Come to think about it – storms can teach. Ask Jonah what he learned in the midst of the storm. Well actually ask Jonah what God was trying to teach him about acceptance and forgiveness, love and our common humanity. It is doubtful Jonah ever really learned – how sad for tomorrow if we are Jonah sitting under a gourd and caring only for ourselves.







6 thoughts on “Irma and Jonah

  1. Thank you for your thoughts, as always. Maybe “blessings” is just another name for “good luck” — something we don’t (in the last analysis) really control or deserve. As you and I have discussed in our classes: what we are made of (and who we are in the deepest sense) is found in our responses to whatever comes our way — good and bad. Tom


  2. Loved this–thank you. Trying to find local–Jupiter–volunteer opportunities. Shall call the town tomorrow; however, if you hear of something and/or have suggestions, please let me know.

    XO Suzette

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. You got that feeling of waiting and being powerless exactly right. I got cable back last night and saw St. Johns, a magnificent island that I vacationed on 20 some years ago, just flattened. Along with so much of the Caribbean and the Keys. I hope our response as a country is up to task ahead.


  4. Great guidance, rabbi. I like all your lessons, but this one for me really had the “imagery speaks to me” affect. Although I didn’t ride this one out in Jupiter it was 24/7 on my TV and I knew exactly what I’ve been through before several times. But what I really like is your conclusion that we have to learn from it and I certainly hope we do learn. Thank you Rabbi


  5. And yet again we have another chance to start again, again. New perspective, new year coming. Begin again, restock the fridge, restock the soul. Step outside like it is the first day. It is like a rebirth. Again. Thank you rabbi


  6. The image of the world refusing to learn compassion, forgiveness — or even to face reality — like Jonah, will stay with me for a long time. Just received word that a Reform synagogue in San Juan, PR, is having to cancel Rosh Hashanah services, just to be safe. When I consider that the threat is a hurricane named Maria, I. just. don’t. want. to. go. there.


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