Against The Tide

Gratitude to the rare individuals who carry invisible burdens, yet walk against the tide of personal hardship to be present for others. In humility they lighten two loads: that carried by the afflicted… and their own.

Rabbi Sharon Brous found solace in the depths of an ancient text, the Mishnah. Writing in an NYT opinion piece, she describes a pilgrimage where the brokenhearted circle in opposition to a concurrent circle of concern, each step against the tide representing the press of their pain.

The irony of the ritual is how many circling in support are also suffering, yet still have the power to listen. This lesson echoes through time, urging us not to retreat into isolation but to show up for one another, embracing those who tread the path of anguish.

The primeval practice imparts two crucial lessons. Avoid withdrawal in distress; stride toward those who will embrace you. On your good days, extend your open soul to those walking against the tide.

The act of relentless love, acknowledging each other’s pain, becomes a profound affirmation of our shared humanity, even in the midst of inhumane times.

Though we might not mend a heart, small gestures of presence remind us we can wrap one another in a circle of care, promising, “You don’t have to hold it alone.” Sincere encounters of spiritual rewiring offer a pathway to healing for all as we find our way to one another.

I admit to immersion in fear as the 2024 election cycle approaches. Rhetorical flames cut intentional division, distracting us from manifesting the equanimity we need to create meaningful solutions to complex problems.

While I want to walk among the suffering, I am still drawn to emulate those marching against that growing tide, to try to be a vessel of support; a reminder that we all carry pain few others can see. All of us, no matter how pressing our burdens may be, can still make a difference.

Amidst the ocean of sorrow and helplessness that engulfs us, empathetic presence is a powerful practice. It speaks to the essence of being human in times where humanity often feels like an endangered species.