Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

On loss, destruction and hope - Tisha Be'Av

Making sense of Tisha Be'Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year, commemorating and mourning various disasters and losses.

A reading of contemporary written laments last night left me pondering on the greater topic of suffering. Losses and mourning are universal, and so are regrets - all an inevitable experience of humans, possibly more conscious beings. Laments include the listing of the losses, but also a listing of 'sins', and the tone is of despair and hopelessness.

What good can come out of diving deep into the darkness of hellish despair and hopelessness? Perhaps a chance at opening the heart compassionately to all suffering as it arises in ourselves and others?

What good can come out of articulating all the ways our individual and collective behaviour is evil? Perhaps owning our shadow so we can have a choice for conscious behaviour that's rooted in compassion?

Jewish people mourn the falling of the Second Temple - a symbol of divine protection, identity and home. A wandering Jew myself, double immigrant and uprooted from my family and old friends, I can relate to this loss of home, of a sense of security, and the loss of a healthy sense of self. I know hell, I lived it,  despaired and lost hope, and with it, at times, I lost the will to live. Without hope - a glimpse into what's possible - there is no purpose; without purpose, there is no drive to fight and live.

Destruction is the end - but the end of what? The end of a parent-child relationship with the divine, when we are left to die or to grow up and become more? The end of a home that was safe and secure but became confining and alienating, leaving us not only wandering, but adapting, learning, growing, integrating and contributing?

A few years ago I brushed with death. What scared me more than dying, as I was lying on a cold metal hospital table, was the thought that I had nothing I wanted to live for, not looking forward to returning to a home where discord reigned and where I felt displaced.

A moment after, something inside me got me to expand my sense of identity and go beyond the separate self, and the thought that I am somehow both infinite and finite, and that in overcoming my own suffering I could also contribute to alleviating the suffering in the world that I am part of, and at one with, in my own unique way. This thought fuelled the drive and strength I needed to fight for life, and it still fuels the drive and strength for my recovery.

What good can come for us, the Jewish Tribe, with mourning of the fall of the Temple, and with owning our dark Shadows? What kind of growth can we achieve to give us hope in hopelessness and make life worth it?

With loss of hope comes loss of expectations. If all is lost, there's nothing else to lose.

When there is nothing more, or nothing else to loose, what's there to gain?

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