This morning I awoke with one sentence sitting quietly in my mind, “It’s an ill wind that blaws naebody any gude.”
I know I was introduced to this Scottish proverb when I was little. I don’t remember when or how- that’s how the brain works. We just remember things sometimes. The gist of this proverb is most bad things that happen (the “ill winds”) have a good result for someone, somehow.
Waking to this proverb on the eve of Shabbos is particularly fitting. Right now, there are many gale force winds in my life. Unemployment. Illness. The suffering of three very close friends and their parents to Cancer. These winds are strong. And, yet, each day I’m witnessing beautiful outcomes to these struggles. The coming together of community. Open expressions of love. Offerings of support and resources. A deepening of faith through community, G-d, and prayer.
I’ve never been one to write about religion publicly. I did not expect to find myself reflecting upon religion so much in this journey. Yet, it’s becoming an every day practice as I begin to reconcile my spirituality with this religion I’m finding myself drawn to, enveloped by, and comforted in.
There have been two times in my life that I have felt G-d. The first happened when I was around 17 years old. My family and I traveled back to Scotland- the last time that I was on that soil. We visited Hadrian’s wall and I wandered off along the walls. I remember that I was wearing my father’s red anorak and that it was too long for my arms so that my hands were covered.
I walked along to the edge of one of the battlements, pushing myself to the cobbled rocks’ end, and then stood, my arms wrapped around myself, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply. And, as I took in the damp Scottish air, I could feel it all: my self, my family, my ancestry, and G-d. I felt full and calm and undone simultaneously. I’ve never had that experience since.
Until last week.
Last week, my boyfriend and I traveled out to Detroit to see his family. The family is struggling right now with their mum’s diagnosis of brain cancer. It’s serious- a very strong wind. On the third day after our arrival we went to Shul for Shabbos eve services. And, I felt G-d again. From the moment that Rabbi Arnie began the nigun, and the congregation slowly joined him in humming and singing, I was at home.
I knew none of the prayers. And, while they were translated into English in the siddur, I mostly chose to listen to the Hebrew and vocally join in when moved to. I sat back when the Torah was presented and the rest of the congregation gathered around to pray. I sat back, watched them all, felt full and came undone.
During the service, Rabbi Arnie spoke about hardship. About the difficulties we go through and come into the end of the week with. And he spoke of Shabbat as that time to recognize those challenges and let them go. To share them with each other in worship, with G-d, and with our selves. To recognize that we endure strong winds every day and that Shabbat blesses us with peace- a lull. It brings goodness.
This blog is about my journey through unemployment. It may be about my journey through religion. Through life. Today, this blog post is about my understanding that these gale-force winds present in my life, and those of the people I love, are also winds of change and opportunity. They are winds that are opening a deeper understanding of my self and my needs. They are winds that are introducing me to the lovingkindness of my friends, colleagues, family, and of a new community. They are winds that are connecting me with G-d and faith, and that are introducing me to Judaism.
It’s an ill wind that blaws naebody any gude.
These winds are strong, but not ill. There is goodness here in moments, in people, and in prayers. Shabbat Shalom.