When we feel burdened by the injustice in the world or the trials in our own lives, it is important to remember: we always have a choice. We may not be in control of what happens, but we are in charge of how we respond. This is where our power lies.
In each moment or outrage, upset or shock, we can take a breath and ask: how can I respond in a way that is life-giving or healing? Or will I choose to react in a way that damages my soul or hurts others?
We always have a choice. I can reply to misunderstandings with apology, or views that are different than mine with curiosity. We can write knee-jerk tweets of anger, or say thank you to someone who taught us something.
Taking time out to refresh and renew ourselves in one way to build our capacity for pausing, and responding in more healthy ways. For example, on the Sabbath, whichever day you take, you stop creating and revel in the world as it is given.
Even (perhaps especially) in outrageous times, we desperately need this kind of time-out. When we take it, and get filled up by friends, family, a walk in the forest or being with a grandchild, our ability to choose the nurturing response grows.
As my teacher and mentor, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner writes, “The only thing truly within our power may be whether or not we will respond with arrogance or reverence.”
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Shabbat Shalom – May you have a day of peace –