In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 9: Rituals help. There are certain rituals in the Jewish community that are designed to support people who are ill and their families. The one I love most is the ritual of the Misheberach, the chanting of a prayer at our Friday night services. “It is the tradition in our Reform Jewish synagogue for the Rabbi to read out loud at Kabbalat Shabbat, Friday night services, the names of congregants who are ill. The congregation then chants a prayer asking God for the healing of body and soul of those who are in need of such healing.” That is the line in The Actual Dance that introduces this ritual. Even though Susan and I regularly attend Friday night services, we never had one of our names read on the list. The Friday night that Susan’s name was going to be read for the first time was different, at least for me. “We sat in the same seats we had been sitting the past 27 years, listening to other peoples’ names read out loud.” Hearing Susan’s name read out loud for the first time was a very emotional experience for me. It reminded me of how fragile life was and made me wonder what it might be like sitting in that same seat alone, without her. Yet it was comforting to know that everyone around us was on our side, also thinking about and asking God for the healing of Susan’s body and spirit. One time during that year during Susan’s chemotherapy she wasn’t feeling up to going to services. I didn’t know what to do. Somehow it felt wrong not to be in the pews when Susan’s name was read out loud. It happened that I was in a meeting with the Rabbi that week and I asked her what to do. She held my hand to let me know that it was okay not to be there, that everyone else would be there for her.
The Misheberach tune we like is the one written by the late Debbie Friedman. You can hear her sing it here.
Stat of the Day: About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed this year (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer)
Task of the Day: Listen to music. Music can calm the mind and open the heart. By itself and especially in quiet places it can transform your heart and bring peace even in the most troubled times. Check out some of my favorites: Snatam Kaur Shastro’s Shamans Healing Loreena Mckennitt
Resource of the Day: Check out “MisheberachOnline” for a full array of resources for comfort and healing.