We live in a dark time — I hear this all around me.
Shootings in Aurora and Newtown. Bone-chilling testimony in the Aurora case. Blood swishing in the bottom of a police car. A booby-trapped apartment, designed to kill.
“Barrel bombs.” The latest from Assad in Syria. Barrels filled with nails and other implements designed to kill. Very inaccurate. Not guns — but gunships — turned on unarmed, innocent citizens.
Borders overflowing into Turkey. Tens — hundreds? — of thousands of refugees there.
A dark time.
Iran’s threats. Civil — rather, incivil — division at home here in America. “Wackos”: one of the kinder epithets that radio talk show hosts throw around in reference to their enemies. Enemies; not opponents.
Turkey, reportedly ruled by a scold, a man as mad at Turks as he is at Israel; yet, an American “ally.”
Russia, ruled by a throwback to the Soviet era, out-of-touch, uninterested in government based on the people.
Israel, developing an anti-missile strong enough to take out the missiles Hezbollah possesses in the tens — hundreds? — of thousands. But also waiting — for the years it takes to develop such a missile. Israel, facing a “moderate” Palestinian leadership in the West Bank unwilling to negotiate; and a “radical” Palestinian leadership in Gaza willing to kill.
India, with its men who attack women.
Afghanistan, with its soldiers, also “allies,” who kill ours.
Pakistan, where it is a capital crime to convert from Islam to any other religion.
A dark time.
I noticed, however, that it was warm enough these past few days to sit outside in the sun.
I observed, as I arrived in shul in the morning, that a cadre of fellow prayers were there with me to seek the presence of the L-rd.
I found, in local grocery stores tens — hundreds? — of thousands of food items, an almost infinite variety capable of meeting, and stimulating, every imaginable taste.
I saw, driving west on Alameda from Havana, a breathtaking intake of the whole Front Range.
The mail brought an invitation to a Bar Mitzvah; the phone brought news of an engagement; the tailor brought a nicely repaired overcoat; the alarm clock brought notice of an opportunity to arise a bit early to study a bit of Torah; the email brought a message that our son had figured a way out of a dilemma.
The Denver Art Museum brought perhaps the most finely curated exhibit of any major artist, with “Becoming Van Gogh” — an exhibit worthy of envy and emulation by the finest museums around the world.
The car repair guy brought relief — the windshield was not cracked.
A look into Colorado history brought a forgotten prompt of gratitude, a long piece the IJN did 30 years ago on the philosemitic history of a true friend, Colorado’s Edwin C. “Big Ed” Johnson, one of two US Senators to advocate direct action to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Dark and light intermix; shadows and shades of color; death and redemption, despair and hope. History has known dark times; our time is filled with darkness, but also with penetrating glimpses of glory.
And books of beauty.
People of passion.
Ours is a world in which racism may still be practiced, but no longer defended.
A world with a commonplace, unpolluted intake of fresh air; an occasional stream of eloquence from judge or clergy, a serene Shabbos, a vast expanse of snow pack, a spurt of creativity, an opportunity to swim a length, hike a peak, or peek at a descending sun, gaze at a lake, frame an amazing photo, find the right word, taste a new dessert.
A dark time? Yes. But “all around me”? Only if I let it be so.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News