In the Middle
It seems this week marked the beginning of The Middle.
The Beginning of the pandemic in Toronto brought six weeks of adjustment. There was a surge of adrenaline and creativity; there was an abundance of goodwill and a “We’re all in it together!” attitude. And we did really well. Despite some early confusion and the TP hoarding, overall, we did really well on so many fronts. But for many, this week was tough. Why? Because we have now arrived at a new stage: The Middle. And The Middle is the hardest place to be.
The beginning of The End will come with its own rush of momentum and enthusiasm. We’ll allow ourselves to imagine life on the other side of crisis. We will have to remind one another to be patient, but we will allow one another to anticipate sweet reunions between family and friends. We will have to be careful not to slip back to The Beginning, but we will embrace every opportunity for healthy embrace. It is still a long way off, some kind of distant fantasy.
What makes The Middle so hard is that we don’t know how long it will last. They say people can endure just about anything if they know how long the discomfort or frustration is going to last. Many are surmising, but we really don’t know.
In The Middle of the Midbar
The Jewish calendar has us Counting the Omer, the days between Pesach and Shavuot when our ancestors marched from the shores of the Red Sea to the foot of Mount Sinai. In between Egypt and the Promised Land was life in the Midbar, the wilderness. The Midbar is that middle ground of transition. It is a harsh, open landscape where we are exposed to the elements and feel vulnerable. The Midbar, we learn, is a place of impatience, boredom, and rebellion. The Midbar is without any natural markers or directional signs. We have to create them for one another.
If we look carefully, however, we may notice the signs and wonders which God has placed there for our discovery. The Midbar is a place of spiritual growth and development. The Midbar is a place for intellectual curiosity and exploration. The Midbar is where we become a people, where we commit to one another. The Midbar is where we affirm a covenant with God. The Midbar is where we are stripped down to our essential selves and discovered what really matters. The Midbar is where we confirm our core values and prepare for when, eventually, in the Promised Land on the horizon, we’ll be able to fully express them – even better than before.