I moved here and started working at Or Hadash in the summer of 2020 — a great time to move to a new place and meet people, right? Oy.
As much as I value the accessibility of Zoom from around the globe, I longed for the multi-sensory experience of being in a room with other bodies —the sounds, the smells, the laughter. I longed for the hugs. There is so much nonverbal conversation happening between our bodies at every moment that we miss behind our screens.
I remember the first time I met with my team without masks on — all of their faces were glowing with radiance, just like when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets in his arms.
One of my favorite stories comes from Martha Beck — she was working in a college cafeteria, and she decided to try an experiment one day where she would look at each student as they walked through the buffet line without preconceptions, without judgment, and observe what she saw.
She writes, ”Of course, this is nearly impossible, but I did make an effort — for a few minutes. After that, I had to stop, because I was so overcome by the beauty of every person in that dining hall that my eyes kept filling with tears. I think maybe that’s one reason we screen out so much loveliness. If we saw people as they really are, the beauty would overwhelm us.”
I hope I never forget what that radiance feels like.
Lauren Henderson is the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs.