Imagine you’re in a room full of Jewish addicts. And you’re volunteering to lead a group on Tuesday evenings. The group is called “Spirituality.” What would you talk about?
This week I decided to ask them what they would talk about. I tossed out a question that I had heard a rabbi ask at the time the Super Bowl was happening, about creating one’s own super bowl ad. “What message would you want to give to the world in thirty seconds if you had a chance to speak to 100 million people?” I asked. They loved it!
With my arm outstretched into a closed fist (a mike), I walked around holding it in front of each resident of the Jewish Women’s Recovery House, as she spoke. Leslie, twenty-four, had been in the recovery house for almost four months since she got out of jail after her last DUI. She was very eager to respond. “Here’s what I’d say!” she exclaimed enthusiastically. “If you radiate positive energy into the world, that’s what you’ll attract. If you give off negative energy – that’s what you’ll attract!” I told her she had a few more seconds before her thirty seconds would be up, so she elaborated just a little bit more, and just as excitedly.
Next Rosie wanted “the mike.” Rosie, thirty-five, and a registered nurse, had only been in the recovery house for a week and a half after being released from a local psychiatric hospital. “I started reading a book I found by a Rabbi Twerski. Here it is!” she said, picking it up from the couch, right next to her. “It’s called Angels Don’t Leave Footprints: Discovering What’s Right with Yourself. And I only started it, but it says that we are really better than angels because we can change and grow. We each have a piece of G‑d inside of us. It just gets covered up, but there’s always hope that we can come to recognize who we really are.”
Ellen, forty-one, a publicist, had come from a detox facility after getting clean from heroin. She had also not been in the house for a full two weeks yet. Ellen waited patiently for everyone else who wanted to speak to go before her, but when her turn came, she was just as ready to share her message as were all the others. “I’ve learned that G‑d hears us. The answers G‑d gives us in life, they may not be the ones we wanted to get, but who are we to know what’s ultimately good for us? It can sometimes be a very long road until we really accept that.”
Then, I don’t know how or why, but all of a sudden it hit me! “I just realized something! I practically shouted. Your words – the words that each of you just spoke here – they really did reach 100 million people – but they reached even more than 100 million people!” They were all looking at me like I was nuts. “They reached everybody in the whole world!”
“Your words, your messages to the world … they sounded like prayers to me,” and my voice started cracking. “You have so much. You are such enlightened souls from all you’ve been through.”
I had to keep going. “You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, right? In the physical realm, the flapping wings of just one butterfly can create tiny changes in the atmosphere, but those tiny changes can end up eventually altering the path of something like a tornado! In the spiritual realm, our individual prayers travel far and wide – they don’t stay put within these walls – prayers don’t care about walls – they go right through them! A tiny prayer’s vibrations travel all around the world, way faster than the speed of light! So your words, your prayers, really could havereached everybody in the whole world already.”
There was complete stillness, and a glow in the room. “Yeah,” smiled Rosie. “I guess they really could have.”
Did you get the messages that these women sent you last Tuesday night? I’m sure you did, in some way. It could have reached you in a ray of hope you felt in one flash of an instant.
But just in case the flapping of their beautiful fragile wings was imperceptible, now you have this.
Bracha Goetz is the author of twelve Jewish children’s books including Remarkable Park , The Invisible Book and The Happiness Box.
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