During times of stress and trauma, individually or communally, we may find ourselves floating in space, we spiral in our anxieties, we fall into the dark paces of our minds. We may not be able to turn at look, we may not yet be ready.
In the wake of the events in Colleyville a couple shabbats ago, I found myself spinning, floating, unable to find a place to channel my feelings.
It is hard to grasp them. It is hard to turn and look. How do I hold this fear, this confusion among all the other fear and confusion I have been sitting in since early spring 2020? How can I take on yet another heavy, traumatic, isolating, lonely experience? It is hard to hold. When an attack on what I hold dear, my freedom to pray, to be my wholehearted Jewish self feels scary and unsafe, where do I turn? How do I calm these feelings, how do I even begin to heal?
In times where my Jewishness, my identity as an invested and excited Jewish person feels hard to step into. I turn myself to what always brings me strength, what brings me hope, and reminds me of the continual sign of life across time for the Jewish people. Torah.
One place is the Psalms, when I feel overwhelmed, when I do not have the words, the Psalms speak for me. When I need comfort, the Psalms hold me. I find myself in these moments when I am fearful and unsure reading and rereading Psalm 27. “God is my light and my help; whom should I fear? God is the stronghold of my life, whom shall I dread?” (Ps. 27:1).
Like many of the Psalms, the speaker ebbs and flows between comfort and fear, sure and unsure of God’s presence. It is honest. We feel what the Psalmist’s feels. We want to believe in God’s protection, in the protection of the ones we lve. Yet sometimes we are unsure, we waver, we let the worry wash over us. Just as Psalmist’s worry flows and passes, so to our own worries flow and pass.
It makes me feel less alone in the in quiet of these isolating moments, in the silence that is so loud. For if I really let the silence take over, I hear that little voice: “my heart says: ‘Seek My face!” God, I seek Your face” (Ps. 27:8) and I am reminded of the fullness of life, of the space I take up in the world, in the world of God, in the world of our community. The Psalmist carries on, the Psalmist trusts God, trusts their emotions, their connections, their passions, and so will I.
Rebecca Chess (they/them)
If anyone would like a space to talk about these events, or anything else that is on their mind, please do not hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org, insta: rebecca_chess), Liana (email@example.com, insta:torahstudio) or anyone in the Torah Studio community. We love you, and we are here for you.
If you would like to engage more deeply with the Psalms, check out our Monday Class: Tehilim, A weekly Psalms Class. Taught by Lexi Kohanski 5-6:30 PM PT • 8-9:30 ET.