When we heard that Hurricane Sandy (aka Frankenstorm) was on its way, my husband and I started asking ourselves: “Should we stay or should we go?” My husband was of the “stay” philosophy. “Hunker down.” “Ride it out.” “What’s more comfortable than home?” he wanted to know. I was of the “go” philosophy. “Something bad is coming. Why would you just stay and wait for it to hit you?” “Home is not comfortable when it’s cold, dark, and disconnected from the world!”
In the end we gave “staying” a chance. We lost power, heat, and hot water, but compared to so many people we were very, very fortunate. When we heard that it would be at least a week until we got power back (and it was getting colder) and my parents offered us some hotel rooms with their points, I told my husband that we had tried out his approach for a while, and now it was time to try out mine!
But before we left, there was darkness – the kind of darkness you don’t get to experience too often in the modern world. The kind of darkness that’s far-reaching, out of your control. My daughter had been jumping around as the storm was coming in, asking for the power to go out. She thought it would be “fun” to read by flashlight and build a fire with the bonfire log my husband had bought. He told the kids that it would be like camping. After about an hour of “fun” and “camping,” she asked when the power was going to come back on, but of course we were powerless in terms of power-loss.
As we managed our best with the temperature dropping, relying on just a couple of flashlights to find our way, I thought of an idea a close friend once shared with me about some verses from tehillim (psalms) which we say every Shabbos. “LeHagid BaBoker Chasdecha, VeEmunascha BaLeilos.” “To speak of Your kindness in the day, and Your loyalty at night.”
In the “daytime,” when there is light, when we can see the good in the world, it is easy to believe. It is easy to feel good about God and speak of His kindness. But at “night,” in the midst of darkness and destruction and pain and suffering, it is much harder to see God’s goodness in it all. My friend explained that the experience of holding onto faith in tough times is like the experience of making our way through physical darkness.
If you know a room well enough by day, then even during the darkest night, you can find your way. You may not be able to see the furniture around you, but you know that room so well, that you can feel around for the familiar, knowing it’s all still there, even though you can’t perceive it like you can when the light illuminates it.
And that’s how we have to treat our trust in Hashem. Develop a familiarity and comfort in Hashem’s goodness in those times when the goodness is so visible, so when the lights go out, and we’re surrounded by darkness, we can make our way through it, trusting that Hashem’s kindness and watchfulness remains, even if it seems to elude us.
Our thoughts and prayers here at Jew in the City go out to everyone affected by this awful storm. May the kindness of others and the power of faith help you to weather it.