The beginning of this memory was quiet and innocent. It was midweek on a fall evening in New York. For reasons which escape me, I was gently probing the neighborhood with my camera. In hindsight, it was as if I knew I needed to see something before it was no more. The shul was dark, inviting. As I reflected on communities past and present, I wondered about the stories behind this group of individuals and families. Where did they call home? What happened to their stories? Who carries the flame?
The shadows of that evening cast their shadow across the start of David embossed above the door. I found myself drifting in time, longing to capture the beauty of what was, yet unable to experience it for myself. The picture which remains from that evening is good, probably not great, but it is a powerful force in my life. The power emerged as a result of an early winter storm which wrecked havoc on more than most people saw. In the storm which followed the weak roof of the shul collapsed. What remained of this community now came face to face with one of their greatest nightmares; a dying building and no monies for repair much less restoration.
The shul is gone, giving way to the construction of a new building without character or community. I walk by the construction site and wonder; what if I had not seen or experienced the touch of what was? It would be my loss, not theirs.
Never underestimate good’s power. When “God told me: ‘I'm not going to say anything, but simply look on from where I live, quiet as warmth that comes from the sun, silent as dew during harvest.’” (Isaiah 18.4) There is action in the silence, power in the stillness. If you take the time you will be touched. If you feel the change within begins. Good need not die; it can live within you and me. Compassion will still have a home; in you and me. Mercy will still be seen; in you and me.
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