Covid Contemplation by Sofia Dorbin
Well, this week has definitely been one for the books. Covid-19 has dramatically changed our lives in so many ways. I never thought I’d be a homeschool mom. Or run to 7 different grocery stores in fewer days. Or worry about running out of toilet paper. Or cook dinner Every Single Night! Or become a news junkie. Or worry about losing my savings. Or about loved ones losing their jobs. Or run my patient clinic over the phone. Or be called to a physician labor pool and not know whether I’ll have the proper PPE. Or worry that my salary will be cut if I don’t volunteer. Or worry that my family will get sick … from me. Or that my parents will. Or that our Spring Break plans were cancelled and there’s nowhere to go. Or that my kids will kill each other. Or that I’ll kill them first. Or that I’ll wake up and realize it’s not just a bad dream; it’s my new reality.
But then there are those other changes, the ones that are unexpectedly pleasant. Like walking around the block in the middle of the day with my kids. Or playing basketball or catch with them on the driveway on a Tuesday. Or opening that game that has been sitting there forever. Or baking together. Or having a family dinner every single night. Or laughing hysterically at the funniest memes. Or seeing your neighbors outside who you haven’t seen in ages. Or meeting new neighbors. Or watching your kids’ piano teacher conduct her lessons over FaceTime. Or not running around to after school activities every night. Or having a virtual “date night” with your friends. Or seeing people make sacrifices to protect those around them. Or seeing acts of kindness for those in my profession.
The most pleasant and unexpected change by far for me was my decision to embrace what I believe the whole world is being summoned to do right now – Shabbat. For the first time outside of my trip to Israel with Momentum in 2018, I tried to keep Shabbat. Restaurants and movies are closed. Stores are closed. Travel is closed. The gym is closed. Classes are closed. Heck, even houses of worship are closed. We are literally being forced into the one place that is still open to us – our home. Our family. Maybe the message of Corona is that this is where we are supposed to be. All those outside things are nice, but they should not be our focus. Our home and family should take up our energy. So that’s what I tried to do. From sundown on 3/20/20 to sundown on 3/21/20, I focused on my home and family. I turned off my phone. I had prepared a beautiful dinner. We lit Shabbat candles and said blessings on wine (ok grape juice) and challah. We ate in the dining room where there’s no tv. Afterwards, we played a game together. The next day, I slept in as my phone alarm clock was off. I awoke when my body decided to get up. I read the weekly Torah portion, which started with Moses recounting the importance of keeping the Sabbath (I can’t believe this is coincidental given what’s happening in the world now). I took a walk with my daughter & played with her outside. I played a card game inside with all my kids. I read a magazine that had been sitting collecting dust. I sat quietly with my thoughts. I took an afternoon nap (it’s amazing how tiring doing nothing can be). Then when it was all over, I logged in through Zoom to the most beautiful Havdalah service with my Rabbi, his wife and family and over one hundred others to mark the separation between the holy and the mundane. It had been a quiet and uneventful day. A day where I could just BE without news or noise. I just might try it again sometime. But for now, it’s back to the real world. Oh, that’s right. It’s still closed. I guess I’ll stay home and see how I can make the best of it. I think I’ll spend all that time and energy I used to run around to figure out how I can be a better me when this is all over. And how my home and family will come out better on the other side.