Strangers No More: Nature’s Power to Bond and Interconnect

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Disclaimer: Those who were displaced, or remain displaced, by the storm have not been so lucky as I, at the time of this writing. I’m glad to hear that electricity is returning to Manhattan thanks to the tremendous efforts of city workers, and that people are beginning to return to their homes. But unthinkable numbers of people are still without hot food or electricity. The privilege of staying at home cozy and warm is something I don’t take for granted, and I don’t mean this personal writing to represent or encompass the experiences of those for whom the storm was a tragic blow to safety and sense of home. I hope that we’ll all continue to think about and send positive prayers for healing to all those for whom the storm has not passed. 

The best thing about the recent hurricane is that the privileged amongst us are being forced to live locally for a while. Though I’m definitely included in the list of New Yorkers (am I a New Yorker? that might be a big stretch of the imagination…) anxiously awaiting the return of full subway service and power in lower Manhattan, I’ve actually appreciated the chance to stay home– or at least around town– for the greater part of a week. My roommate Ellie and I were talking the other night about how our house felt almost unlived-in until Sandy hit, at which point we barely left Ellie’s bedroom except to carry up food and drink from the kitchen, and to go to the bathroom. We kept the window open for fresh air, and had a grand old time cuddling and watching movies on our new projector. With our eyes glued on Ellie’s wall, using news as intermissions for our movie marathons, all of us began to sink into a pleasant comfort with one another—despite being complete and utter strangers as of just last Sunday.

Having spent almost a year abroad, volunteering and building community in the faraway land of Jaffa, Israel, it’s mind boggling to me why committing time and resources to improving relationships at home can feel so daunting. Why is it that we’re willing to pay thousands of dollars to participate in social action programs abroad, when dedicating a weekend to helping out the homeless, spending uninterrupted quality time with our loved ones, or tutoring a struggling student is looked upon as small sainthood? Yes, in disastrous times like these, we really mobilize, overcrowding shelters with our desire to do good and turning inward to our own families. Certainly this “nesting” behavior should happen on a more regular basis, but nonetheless it’s a good reminder to have nature step in and force us to pay attention to what’s happening at home every now and then.

Whether it’s volunteering together, or having meals together, seeing New York communities big and small come together to weather this storm has been an inspiration– and a testament to the power of nature to remind us how interconnected we really are.

Note: For those interested in volunteering in community, Moishe House Park Slope will be gathering tomorrow (Sunday) at 12pm in Park Slope to head over to volunteer in Red Hook or at another shelter TBD. For more info, check out our Moishe House on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/groups/MoHoParkSlope

 

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