The boy bowed down in the natural rhythm of bending the knee and then lowering the head and body, in praise of God. Noticed, but unheard.
Many of us were struck by the story of the man who was hit by lightening following Yom Kippur services. It happened across the street from us in the parking lot of Hebrew Educational Alliance. He sustained significant burns but thanks to his wife and those around who administered CPR he will live.
Over this holiday season one story after another filtered in—and I began to wonder—what are all these stories conveying? With each one I shuddered in the realization of the fragility of life. With that came the realization of the resilience of people in the face of fragility.
I made a mental note—a new window. Nice. The yellow PELLA business card was on the floor and moments later in the mouth of one of our toddlers. You didn’t hear? Our neighbor across the street was cleaning his gun in his kitchen. He didn’t know that there was still a bullet in the chamber. It entered here and exited out the back window. About 10 feet from the bullet’s path our daughter was playing piano. She heard glass break but could not find the source of the noise. She went back to the piano.
In this instant the bullet was dodged. The pop of glass breaking did not even cause an alarm. The bullet, never found, left an indelible mark in our friend’s living room and in their lives. I keep tracing the trajectory of that aimless bullet in my mind’s eye.
The boy is an 11 year old; a crash off his rib stick landed him with severe head injuries and much to think about not wearing a helmet. Following his fall his memory was a blank, not just for the event itself–which is a common occurrence–the amnesia included a total loss of recognition for all his family members. The boy took it on faith what photographs evidenced—this is his family, but no memory was present to connect him with the past.
In synagogue, just prior to Yom Kippur, the boy bent down during his prayers and “snap”—a signal crossed some synapse and he recognized—from within—father and mother and his siblings. He remembered in an instant what had eluded him for months.
I try to trace the trajectory of that neuronal activity—the one in charge of memory—silently moving at the speed of a bullet—entering and exiting, aimless and then on target.
Fragility and resilience. The trajectory of a miracle.