Who would think that death could bring out the best in us? Family members and friends gathering to support and nourish one another through tragedy. It is millennium old and community minded and, honestly, at peak performance, it is when we human beings behave with humanity.
It happens continually and often – the Columbine shooting, 9/11, the recent rash of devastating hurricanes, at a school in Newtown, at a nightclub in Orlando, at a music festival in Las Vegas. We offer blood, food, water, supplies, our money and our time.
Yesterday a small group of us gathered in a semicircle at a graveside funeral ceremony. And I noticed it again. Family members, friends, people I know hardly at all, and strangers. all in one place at one time with one goal – to help each other get through these tough moments. Humanity. With all the insanity and violence and senseless acts of terror we can forget kindness, get jaded, become cynical and protective, judgmental, angry and closed.
But the opposite reaction, counter-intuitive though it may seem, is the more appropriate one.
Shiva is the period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors and retell stories of old, reconnect, and breathe. We are sitting shiva in my home for three days (traditionally one sits for seven) and we are spending time together. I do this for my stepfather who is a gem of a being and whom I dearly love. It is a low technology environment, we spend deep time, hug, stare, and share meals. A throwback to simpler times.
Let us remember what connects us more than what divides us. Let us breathe in the crisp air, swoon at the china blue sky and its rainbows, see the beauty around us, and be ever thankful for those we have loved, love still, and will love.