A pause on Christmas morning… Hurricane Sandy lives in my heart – one of those moments in time when the human spirit and the human heart opened wide, far and deep – where, in Hoboken, we all dared to look into the eyes of the other fixed on all that connects us, arms outstretched in the direction of our common need for food and shelter, a hug, a smile, and to feel whatever it is we are feeling – sadness, anger, gratitude, loss, confusion, love- the outpouring was immense - our collective resources astounding really, as so many “walls” disintegrated in the face of the instinct to show up for ourselves and each other and from here, it was magical – even more so than this Holiday Season for me, which in the wake of Sandy and this unbearable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary comes into question.
What is the point and purpose, if not to connect us in the heart – the common heart of humanity. It is clear that Hoboken has a lot of heart in its immense diversity, in our one square mile. We seem to have been given perhaps the strangest map and compass in the form of Hurricane Sandy to our own best self – to a kind of selflessness that miraculously includes ourselves and all others and that is the very definition of community, despite the pain that many of us still feel from the loss of memories and money and possessions – yet beneath the rubble there is an unmistakable glow from the fire that burns in our hearts to show up in this world with all our potential realized in that single instant we choose to say yes to whatever it is that looks us in the eye – that single instant bypasses the mind and shoots an arrow right through our hearts, piercing the armor of separation and miraculously we find ourselves catapulted into heaven right in the midst of hell.
We all have a story that includes at least one or many of these moments. So thank you Hoboken, Mayor Zimmer, and the Cert Team who allowed me to show up as part of your effort, and thank you especially to all of us connected to the temporary shelter community at St. Peter and Paul, where for eight days we joined our hearts and minds in the direction of each other, regardless - strangers in a strange land, that was strangely familiar, and strangely compelling.
For me, the gift of this holiday season comes in the form of all of you, who embodied what it means to authentically show up, that will live forever in my heart. Here is a shout out to Maggie, Aria, Fr. Bob, Sister Joanne, Stacey, Paulina, Kris, Adith, Erica, Beth, Mandee,Cristina, Nancy, Vivek, Zachary, Melissa, Kimberly, Emily, David, Jeremy, Devin, Andrea, Al, Bevin, Will, Bruce, Jeannie and more than 50 others who donated and volunteered in this poignant and noteworthy effort to show up for each other and make a difference. Is there a way for all of us to carry what was discovered within ourselves from Sandy into the fabric of everyday life in Hoboken? I think there is. The overwhelming response in our community to the upcoming CERT training that is full to the brim is one indication that we are coming together to this end.
Rev. Jody Lotito Levine