On Shabbat at about 12:30 I had a parade. It was just me. I walked down the sidewalk of Route 6A in the old town of Brewster. I pretended in my mind that I was marching. In my mind, I wore the trappings of a drum majorette. I had on the tall hat, the fluffy skirt, the white boots. In my mind I heard the beating of the drums and the brass section singing out in all its glory. There was magic in the air. Finally, this was a changing of the guard and I was celebrating.
For the past four years I have told myself scores of times that if someone new was elected for the presidency, I would walk down Walnut Street and celebrate. I made a Neder, a vow to myself, that a parade would mark my inner relief; that this walk would be my own private celebration. I couldn't have known that the announcement would be made on Shabbat and that we would be elsewhere, but parades can be anywhere, right? I wasn't part of a big event, but a parade that exists in my heart.
Within the Jewish tradition we mark time between the profane and the holy each week when we celebrate Shabbat. We mark holy time with our holidays. More germane to this reflection is that following a the period of shiva, after we get up from our first seven days of mourning, we get up and walk around the block. Family members mark the difference between happiness and sadness by taking that walk, which was similar to my silent parade on Shabbat. During that time I was also marking a time between happy and sad, between tension and quiet, between overwhelming chaos and calm, between restrictions and inclusivity, between, between, between.....
Many people don't agree with my celebration. Four years ago as I was in shock at our choice of president, other friends and family celebrated. On Saturday, it was the opposite. I celebrated while others mourned the loss of a wildly popular leader. I was filled with tears of joy to know that this particular president would find his way back to the world of business and show business while others refused to believe that the current president could possibly lose. Throughout this country we are almost evenly divided. My gain is someone else's loss and my loss is someone else's gain. Rather than feeling over the moon happy about Biden's victory, I am left wanting my parade, but having the distinct feeling that the Biden administration will encounter enormous challenges because of this divide in our country.
We are now reading the book of Genesis. Genesis is our base text; it is our sourcebook, our beginning. It is also full of dysfunction, jealousy, mistrust, tension, scheming, even lies and violence. Somehow we have managed to survive and thrive despite these inconsistencies, jealousies and mistrusts we have in Genesis. Maybe, even if we are not in the mood to learn from them, we can at least know that with time what currently seems so terrible, will change and get better. At some point we will learn to understand each other. At some point, it is my hope, that my parade will not be at the expense of others. At some point soon, with the help of God and a lot more understanding and compassion for each other than exists now, we will parade together down the street. We'll pull the music out of the trunk, put on our marching hats, get out our batons to twirl and all celebrate together. We'll march down the street in unison, with smiles on our faces and unity in our hearts. At least that is what I hope our futures will bring.
May we all merit parades of celebration together, united under one flag and not allow our differences get in the way of the humanity that we have in common. And may I add that merit doesn't mean that celebration comes easily. Merit means that we, both red and blue, need to actively work toward understanding in order to merit the reward of celebration. This isn't in God's hands, it is in our hands and using our hands, and legs and minds and strength we need to do what it takes to understand each other and work for the merit of celebrating together.
Drum Majorette Charlene Finley, Coast Community College Marching Band, November 24, 1948. From Orange County, California, public libraries, historical images.