Two months ago none of us would have imagined that the entire world would come to a grinding halt. Two months of staying at home. Two months without restaurant dining. Two months without professional sports, little to no human contact, or little, if any work. No Way!

And for parents of children still at home – no school, no babysitters, no break from the kids; family fun time all day, every day??? Inconceivable! (I can hear my inner Princess Bride shout). No freakin way!!!

And yet..

It may have been inconceivable, but here we are. Two months later we are beginning to emerge out of sheltering in place; emerging out of unprecedented anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and loss on so many levels. It’s been tragic for some. It’s been devastating for others. It’s been painful for all. Simply put, the inconceivable has been conceived (along with a huge upswing of babies about to be delivered seven months from now – fine, family fun time was only 24/6).

And yet, along with all those soon-to-be-born-post-pandemic-progeny, something else has been born. This time of global emergency has not been without beauty, blessings and meaning, not the least of which is this – we have been reminded that we are far more resilient than we think. In the words of Dr. Viktor Frankl, master of the inconceivable (not only surviving the Holocaust but bringing so much meaning to the world in its aftermath) never underestimate the defiant power of the human spirit.

The defiant power of the human spirit is what carried health care professionals through their sleeplessness and their overwhelm to serve us all out there on the front lines.

The defiant power of the human spirit is what kept essential workers across so many essential industries motivated, showing up amidst deep and real fears about exposing themselves, or their families, to the virus.

The defiant power of the human spirit is what kept (and keeps) so many going with no job, no paycheck and no end in sight for their financial burdens.

The defiant power of the human spirit is what kept us indoors, kept us sheltering in place, kept us sane in the isolation or calm amidst the familial chaos.

And the defiant power of the human spirit is the gift of this, or any, emergency. Yes, there are gifts within emergencies – which is why it is called an emergency.

Etymologically, an “emergency” is the emerging of something unexpected. It isn’t to say you wanted it; no one ever does. It certainly isn’t to say you should go seeking them. It is to say, however, when they arrive, and they always will, that you choose to face them, intentionally move through them and resolve to emerge stronger, wiser, kinder, and more resilient on the other side. We do this through the power of our spirit.

It’s time to emerge  (not rush, but emerge) from this emergency. Make the losses, tragedy and sacrifices of this emergency meaningful. Learn lessons. Commit to kindness. And remember, within you is the defiant power of the human spirit. It was always there. It will always be there, and it will be there again, helping you to emerge from this, and every, emergency.

Rabbi B

For more on emerging from emergency & the defiant power of the human spirit check out Rabbi B’s video series: Transforming Tragedy.