Pause, Stop and Rest

Pause stop and rest, it’s a matter of life and death* 2x
Wonder, create, connect, and go in
Pause stop and rest, it’s a matter of life and death*.

Pause, stop and rest, refresh and renew 2x
Honor creation, know we’re a part
Pause, stop, and rest, connect with the One

*(For some people, the word “death” is off-putting and too harsh. If so, you can substitute the word “breath.”)

On March 13, 2020 Governor Cuomo of New York put a Shelter in Place policy to begin to try to control the Coronavirus. It was described as a pause, and as a way to prevent ourselves from physically dying by contracting COVID-19. We were to stay in our apartments and social distance — it was a matter of life and death.
In Parshat Vayakhel towards the end of the book of Exodus, Shabbat is also described as a pause. It is a time to pause, stop and rest** from the everyday busyness of our lives and to take time to connect to Spirit, God, the Oneness that connects us one to the other. The idea conveys that, without this time out, we can spiritually die by not connecting with the source of our lives.
**Directing the Heart, Rabbi Yael Levy, page 63

The time of the pandemic is, was, and has been (we are still in it but I hope we will read these words in a few years and it will be behind us) a time to pause stop and rest, renew, refresh and connect. It was an unbelievable coincidence that I read these words 3 days after the shelter in place was enacted. Such a strong coincidence and then this chant came. When we get too busy, let us remember how important it is to balance our lives between doing and being, busy and resting. The following poem circulated at the time of the Pandemic and captures the essence of Shabbat.

Pandemic by Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.


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