Turn on your Flashlight
July 3, 2020
By Rabbi Adam Scheldt

There is a delightfully sarcastic curse:  “may you live in interesting times.”  On the face of it, it sounds like a nice little blessing—interesting is good, right?  In reality, however, this little adage operates with the assumption that calm, smooth, and steady is the ideal way to live.  And so, to wish that someone live in ‘interesting times,’ is really not a good thing.  And we appear to be living in the most interesting times anyone can remember.  But, all is not as it seems.

On February 3rd, I became legally married to a Canadian who also happens to be named Adam.  I bet you really didn’t see that coming, and yes, marrying someone with the same name is indeed confusing.  We became legally married in a civil service in Niagara Falls, ON in early February.  The plan was to have a civil/legal marriage, start the immigration paperwork, and plan the Jewish wedding/real wedding (no offense to civil marriages, but I’m a rabbi—I need the chuppah) while the paperwork is processed and the immigration wheels turn.

Then the plague struck.  The border closed.  Our anxiety opened.  And quite literally, I haven’t seen my husband since my birthday at the end of February.  We suddenly found ourselves trying to find ways to keep ourselves connected and as together as possible—and we have.

We ‘take walks’ together each evening to debrief our days (a lot of phone time).  We synchronize our Netflix viewing for movie night.  We send care packages (fyi, the royal Canadian post has a backlog—don’t send cookies north).  We play online games together.  And we invested in some insane binoculars which we use on hikes into the Niagara gorge so we can “see” each other every Shabbat.  I am not saying we’ve taken lemons and made lemonade.  But I am saying that within the darkness, we have learned how to turn on a flashlight.

And that’s the thing.  Despite the mountains of darkness, no matter how interesting the times get, there are bright lights waiting to be turned on, and seen, and noticed, and enhanced, and celebrated.

Yes there are many, many truly foul things afoot in the US right now, but there are also other things—brighter things—that are stretching and growing and working hard to rise to the top.  Mississippi is finally getting a new flag (personally I’d swap the Confederate part with some rainbow stripes—but that’s just me).  And although we still have a long way to go, there are more restorative conversations about race, policing, and healthcare.  AND recent weeks have seen a Supreme Court rule in favor of LGBTQ+ protections!  Definitely some bright lights!

In my Kenmore neighborhood, I see Pride flags—and banners, and signs (and no, I am not just walking back and forth in front of my own home).  LGBTQ+ support is literally on every street I’ve walked down.  It wasn’t like that just a few years ago.  The change and evolution is fantastic.

These past few months and especially this past June has brought so much to a head.  So much tumult, so much darkness—so many interesting times.  And yet, we all have a flashlight to shine.  We all have those moments of light to seek out.  Darkness, sadness, and hate will always collapse on itself.  Only lovingkindness is self-sustaining, and eventually it will always win out.

So hang your flag, hike your gorge, turn on your flashlight, and turn these interesting times from a curse to a blessing.  Happy Pride!!!

Rabbi Adam Scheldt is the Director of Spiritual Care at Hospice Buffalo.

Turn on your Flashlight - Jewish thought of the week graphic