In light of this past week's events, I was reminded of the words of the Ohr HaChaim, that in our lives, we should be, "a magnet for good." Paraphrasing him in a letter to her past students, Rebbitzen Tziporrah Heller wrote, and I now paraphrase her, that if we were to treat people as the best we know they are, people will, in turn, strive to be that best version of themselves.Similarly, were we to treat people judgmentally, they would respond and act in that diminished version of themselves.
As I deputize myself as 'a green bubbie' I encourage myself to become a "magnet for good" as well. I am reminded to reach out and embrace and enlarge my circle. It isn't easy to grow spiritually. In fact, I have learned that if we were to imagine ourselves as spiritual swimmers- constantly moving ourselves to stay afloat, we would appreciate that should we stop that growth for just a moment we might drown. As spiritual beings, if we are not moving forward, we move back. Sounds harsh, but true.
In the garden, if our plants are not constantly nourished, we see them die back. With proper water, or additional light, we may witness their revival. The more we tune into the physical world, the more insightful I think we become of our spiritual lives. The ability to look at events in our world, and to ask, what I can I learn from this, what can I change in my own l life to heal, to contribute, to re-think how our lives, when touched, can grow.
By becomming a "magnet for good" I think we/I can strengthen the infrastructure of community, the many communities of which we are members and the ones we can create.
One small gesture that I think the 'green bubbies' of the world could take on is the 'active listening' to the younger generation(s) of parents,teachers,people of all ages. The seemingly simple act of asking, of listening, which of course involves making oneself available- even with an extra minute in line at the grocery store- taking the time to ask, "How are your children/students/parents/ doing?" So many people are so busy and afraid to ask, afraid to get involved. I think the willingness to ask, to listen, to pay attention to the lives of others, creates the opportunity for connection, caring and support.
At least to be able to say either: "That's sounds pretty normal to me. " or, "I can see why you're concerned."
Now as I write this, I am reminded of the negative imagery of the 'busybody' or the 'yenta' - while neither are role models for me, I think our generation of boomers- with our advanced degrees, psychological awareness, and interdenominational and professional networked connections can form a new model of engagement, based on our individual and collective experiences. We can reinforce the personal and social connective tissue of our communities. We can call on our vast musical and cinematic collective memories. We can reference our memory of the desire to make the world a better place. And we can do it wherever we are.
Perhaps we can update a gesture from a previous difficult time in America- let's see if we can transform, "Buddy, can you spare a dime?" to "Bubby, can you spare an ear?"