You know that you’re living a strange existence, or perhaps a particularly special one, when you end up seeing your need for gas as a blessing. During the summer months I’m particularly pressed for time. The kids’ camps offer only a sliver of time to run to the office, get my work done and try to squeeze in an errand or two before they return. And then there is little time for errands or productivity as the house fills with boys and energy.
So, yesterday, when I noticed that my gas gauge was getting low, I actually had to wonder when I would take the extra fifteen minutes to get it filled. And I awoke this morning slightly annoyed, knowing that I could wait to fill the tank no longer, and that this extra time would encroach upon my work schedule, which would put off my get-home-and-quickly-throw-the-laundry-in-schedule, which would encroach upon my…you get the picture. So I grumbled all the way to the gas station, weaving my way through the morning traffic on highway 60 near my home in Gush Etzion.
And as entered the Rami Levi complex to get gas and waved at the soldiers standing there and trying to keep me safe, my grumbling stopped. It hasn’t been an easy few days around here. And most of us are just barely staying sane, what with Hallel getting butchered in her bed while sound asleep in Kiryat Arba, and Rav Micky Mark getting murdered and leaving behind three injured family members and ten children outside of Otniel. And so, as I saw those beautiful boys, boys who will someday, much too soon, be my own sons, my hurry vanished.
And as the gas was filling, I went over to the convenience store and bought some drinks for the boys. I walked over to them, reminded them to stay hydrated on hot days like this, and was filled with sunshine from the enormous, vibrant smiles I received in return.
And as I got in my car to race to work, I thanked Hashem for reminded me that there are many things more important than my busy schedule, and that there are many ways that we can step outside of ourselves and show our appreciation for those who enable us to continue with our regular lives.
I have no answers to the situation in Israel at the moment, no answers to my children who wonder how they could possibly feel safe in their own beds, no answers as a mom trying to shelter her ever-adventurous and fun-loving teenage boys, no answers for how to balance it all. But what I found today is that I do have one answer for my mood – for my reaction to the insanity unfolding on a daily basis around me.
And that’s chesed (acts of loving kindness). And I don’t mean that we need to all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I just think that each of us, no matter where we live in the world, can try to make our little corner better and try to help those in Israel to keep reaching towards sanity, hope and stability. This might mean that, if you live in Israel, you visit one of the Shiva houses when a tragedy occurs. But maybe this is too much to ask, and rather you purchase a bottle of wine from the Ariel B'Yehuda winery (owned by Hallel Yaffa Ariel's parents). Or you join in this Go Fund Me campaign set up to help Rav Mark's family.
We don’t have to do earth-shattering things in order to feel like we are doing something. Send money to the Friends of the IDF, to the Koby Mandel Foundation or to any other location that touches your heart. If you live in Israel, bake cookies for the local soldiers, have your kids write notes to soldiers on bases, decide to spend one hour a week doing charity work, or just smile at those around you more. If you live outside of Israel, keep in touch with those you love here and remind them that you’re behind them. The Whatsapp messages that I get from my friends when tragedy strikes here are like gold. I can’t tell you how meaningful they are. Pay attention to the news. Come for visits. Put your money here.
We all have our own tools in our toolbox, and our own ways of coping with the stress that we feel around us, or that we see unfolding on the international stage.
I felt blessed today that I was low on gas, and that I had a reminder that it doesn’t have to be the large things in life that can pull us out of our slump. Sometimes it’s the littlest of things that can make all the difference.