By Rabbi Birdie Becker
When you live in a construction zone, periodically the cable accidentally is cut. The electricity goes out and with it your connection to the world: TV, Internet, phones. You cannot do the laundry or cook. If you are on a ‘tankless’ water system, you do not even have hot water. When your cable is cut, you are alone, disconnected.
The technology in our lives has brought great advances but it has also brought isolation. I do not need to hand write a thank you note because I can shoot you an email. I do not need to visit because I can see you on SKYPE. We do not need to meet because I can call you from my cell phone at home, in my car, at the restaurant, while working and while on vacation. That frees me up to do whatever I want privately – because no one is with me. When the lights go out, when the connections are cut, when we are most alone with no one watching what we do, do we act differently?
If we must be isolated from others to act, then we should probably rethink our actions. If we cannot live as who we are in community, then either we, or the community, must change. There are issues that divide us and others that unite us. Being among the first to shed light on divisive issues takes courage. Being among those who see, listen and act to carry the light forward takes strength. Being able to communicate with those who view things with a different light takes practice. The reward of this practice is enlightenment.
When the lights go out, when the cable is cut, we are on our own to determine what to do and how to do it. When there is no one else to help, there is no one else to take the blame if things go wrong. For some, this is scary. For many this is freedom: freedom from the noise of things and people who require noise to feel important and successful; freedom to think and feel without reporting to others; freedom to act out of conviction.
Now imagine that you live in that freedom all the time. How would you change your life? What priorities would you set and how would you go about achieving them?
All around the world, when people gather close to the winter solstice, it is to lighten their lives from the burden of the unknown, the fear of the dark and being alone in the world, indeed, in the universe. In the darkest season of the year, most cultures developed a reason and a way to bring in light. Not just physical light, but also the light of hope, the light of thought, the light of connection and yes, the light of God.
When the lights go out, when the cable is cut, it does not adversely effect your connection to the Divine presence. Reach out for that light. No technology required.
Wishing you and yours an enlightened holiday season.