You know I have been trying recently in all my columns to send to you, dear readers, a simple but deeply profound message: LOOK UP!
Looking up means spending at least as much time in gratitude as you spend in complaining — at least as much time taking in the power of our blessings as we do taking in the pain of our burdens. The advice to look up, as I have taught you, comes from the old legend that some of the people in the Exodus from Egypt in the Bible did not see the great miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea because while walking through the divided sea with walls of water on the right and the left they never looked up to see the miracles that surrounded them. They only looked down so all they saw was mud. Looking up is the only way to survive this pandemic. Looking up is the only way to keep hope alive in a time of mass despair.
Here is a looking up story from my life. Please share with me some looking up stories from yours.
This week, I received my second vaccination shot for COVID-19 in a park not far from our home. The experience of getting shot the second time was even more emotional for me than getting shot the first time three weeks ago. The line of cars was long — very long — and moved slowly. I could have just looked down at the line of cars ahead of me and moaned about the time it took to get through to the needle tent. Instead, I looked up and saw the people helping me. I looked up and saw the people who checked my papers with a smile and the ones who wrote on the windshield of my car in pink lipstick in some code that meant, “This guy is old and needs us. Let’s help him.” These folks could have been curt or dismissive or grouchy themselves, but they were, to a person, all smiling and kind. They knew that what they were doing was important and that their system worked. There was also a second line for the rescue workers and hospital workers and police and fire people that moved quickly and got them through the line faster, which was the right thing to do. My line moved more slowly but it moved forward.
In the Bible there are two kinds of angels. There are the ministering angels (Gabriel, Raphael. Uriel, Michael), who spend all their time close to God. These angels are not good people with wings. They are angelic beings with wings who never were people. They do not eat or sweat or burp or pass gas (I made up the last two things). The second kind of angels are people whom God has chosen to deliver a message or complete a task here on earth. They do not even realize it, but they are bringing messages from God. They do not even know that they are angels. They just pursue their human lives but in doing so they make God’s will real in our wounded world. The lady writing on my windshield in pink lipstick, the guy checking my papers and the nurse who gave me the shot and asked me how I felt were all angels. I was in a park filled with old folks and angels and I would not have been able to apprehend their angelic presence unless I looked up. I baked some oatmeal raisin cookies for them and thanked them and blessed them. They humbly accepted both the cookies and the blessings. One guy declined the cookie. I immediately looked for his wings.
The vaccines we are receiving now are miracles sent by God through angels who are doing their best to put these miracles in front us. Our task is to not waste a miracle! I know it is hard for many of you who are eligible to get an appointment. I know many of you are not eligible yet ought to be. However, when it is your turn to get vaccinated, don’t say no to a miracle. A doctor told me that one of her patients refused to get vaccinated because she thought the whole thing was a secret plan by the government to inject us with computer chips so that they could keep track of us. This kind of fantasy may cause that woman to die of the virus. This is a choice for self-destruction rather than self-preservation.
Look up and you will see around you kindly, healing people waiting to heal you. Don’t listen to those who believe that the vaccine is mud. Say yes to life. Say yes to miracles. Get vaccinated and don’t forget to bring some cookies.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman.)
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