It can be odd and a little unsettling when tragic and joyous events overlap. And yet we often find that tragedies create opportunities for kindness.
Seconds after I typed those words, a news story came on the air to prove my point.
“It’s unbelievable that people can be so kind,” said Tom Moore, a British WWII veteran, who decided to raise money by walking laps in his garden. Moore, who turns 100 later this month, had expected to raise some $1,200 but instead raised an astounding $15 million for Britain’s National Health Service. More than 648,000 people donated through his online giving page.
Why did they give? Because of a tragedy, the Covid-19 pandemic. People are dying all over the world, and yet small acts of kindness abound, and small steps like Captain Moore’s turn into giant strides.
Around the globe we humans are having a common experience, a commonality that goes far beyond the virus itself. It is the unknown. No one knows when the pandemic will end, when a vaccine will be invented, or how many people will die in the meantime.
Like our ancestors who left Egypt and fled into the desert, we don’t know what lies ahead. And as with them, things got scary quickly. Just days after fleeing Egypt, they found themselves trapped between the Reed Sea (also called the Red Sea) and Pharaoh’s army.
They were terrified, with good reason. Moses had parted the sea, but not completely. There was still too much water in their path to go forward.
Everyone hung back. Finally, Nachshon walked to the water, waded in, and kept walking until it reached his nostrils. Another step, and he wouldn’t be able to breathe. But he took the step, took the leap of faith. Only then did the sea part.
There is another version of the story that says each step he took had to be a leap of faith, and he never knew if the water would continue to part before him or if he would drown.
It’s a little like the way we feel right now. We’re not sure how to go forward, when to leave our homes, whether to go back to work or begin traveling again. We wait for normality to return.
But truth be told, that might not happen. It is possible that the new normal we’re experiencing will persist, perhaps for quite some time. And it is also possible that like our ancestors, we will not be able to turn around and go back. Egypt was behind them, forever.
Yesterday is behind us. May we be like Nachshon, with the strength to continue moving forward into the unknown. And may we be like Tom Moore, determined to make a difference, no matter how small. Because we never know if it will turn into something huge and important.