I do not remember the last time I was this desperate for Shabbat.
This has been a dreadful week, beginning with the bombing of the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Even though I did not know anyone present, the images that came streaming at me from the television, the computer, and even my smartphone were pixillated nightmares. Even though I was nowhere near Boston, have only been to Boston a few times in my life, it felt personal. I got angry, and made an appointment for a blood donation. I needed to act, rather than simply stew in stress hormones.
Random bits of horror in the news kept poking at me: ricin, the Senate’s choice about the gun loophole, news about local violence. It seemed to never stop.
Then, Wednesday night, when I got in my car at 9:30 pm after a class, I turned on the radio and learned about the factory explosion in West, Texas. A dear friend is the rabbi in Waco, just 20 miles distant, and I had no idea where she actually lives. I worried about her until she posted on facebook that she was OK.
That relief lasted only a few minutes, when the other details about the disaster began to sink in: 5 city blocks destroyed in a tiny Texas town. Volunteer firefighters were probably trapped in the exploding factory. Why was there a nursing home across the street? Why schools nearby?
I donated blood. This, I can do.
Then late last night, after another class, more violence, more weirdness, in Boston. I turned off the electronics and cleaned house. I thought about my sermon for this evening. I kept forgetting and turning something back on – and would turn it off again, because honestly, I’d had enough.
Douglas Rushkoff‘s new book, Present Shock, describes what has been going on with me this week. Events come pouring in faster than we can process them. Narratives fracture before they are even formed. Conspiracy theories multiply and divide. Email, facebook, twitter, the radio, the news, the news, the news demand my attention and in a bad news week it WILL make me crazy.
I’ve been reading Rushkoff’s book this week, too, and that’s why I finally turned everything off and began scrubbing the bathroom. My baby-boomer brain as well as my baby-boomer heart and soul were overwhelmed. I recognized myself in his pages and declared, “TIME OUT!”
Of course, I had to start all over again this morning, wake up to more strange “breaking news” un-narrative from Boston, along with assorted bits nearer to home. The people in Texas seem to have dropped off the news cycle, which sort of worries me – will anyone remember to check on them?
But today, at sundown, Shabbat will come. I don’t know if she’ll be wearing bridal white or a nice nurse’s outfit this week, but she will come and gather us in her arms. The electronics will be off. The buzz will be busted for a while. We will catch our breath. We will gather our strength.
Blessed are you, O Holy One, Ruler of Time & Space, Master of the Now, Maker of Shabbat.
- Tech’s Best Feature: The Off Switch (blogs.hbr.org)