A few weeks ago, I had a dilemma. A friend was getting married. And God knows I wanted to be there. He’s an angel of a human being, he’s come a really long way since we met, and I really wanted to see him in his moment of true happiness.
But we are in odd times.
Any other time, there would be no hesitation. I would have been there dancing with excitement, without even a thought.
Times of Corona
But we are in the times of Corona. The world is a different place now. The rules are changing by the minute. And I had more than a few fears stepping into a world where I could get sick. Or get my family sick. Or be responsible for someone else getting sick.
Or even just getting quarantined, with all the awful consequences that would come along with it.
This event would literally be the first stepping outside of my Corona bubble in a couple of months. Up to this point, I left the house to walk my dog, throw out trash, go grocery shopping, or transport my girls. That’s it! I still cringe when I watch TV and I see people shake hands. There is no part of me that is ready for normality to return.
And yet I was about to jump into a crowd with a whole bunch of strangers.
To make matters more complex, the wedding was in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood. The Coronavirus has spared nobody, and has wormed its way across the world. But some communities were affected far worse than others. Recent statistics have shown that as much as 70% of all of Israel’s cases have been ultra-orthodox, a really terrifying statistic, especially when you consider they represent barely a drip above 10% of the population.
And with a quick trip to the communities it’s not at all hard to figure out why that’s the case. The communities are crowded, very densely populated. There is a constant need to gather in groups for prayer services. And on top of all of that, there is always a feeling that they have their own rule book. Which, technically, they do.
The Rules Dwindle…
And I watched as the evening progressed and the rules rapidly got left in the dirt. At first, almost everyone was wearing masks, and most were wearing them correctly (although I don’t know how beards affect things though). People weren’t touching much. And even though there was never a point in which people were a couple of meters apart, they were basically separate from one another.
But that was the beginning.
Masks slowly went to chins or pockets. Folk inched closer to one another. And by the end, everyone was dancing hand in hand.
I was a bit unnerved. And more than a little scared.
Adam, Eve… and Corona
I was reminded of an interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. Adam had told Eve she couldn’t touch the tree. He presented the rules as stricter than they were in order to prevent the actual rule from being broken. Later, the snake would push her up against the tree, and when nothing went wrong, he said, “Look lady, nothing happened. You’re OK. It’s all a big lie. Why don’t you just eat one of the darn things?”
It’s as if the first two folk who shook hands or bumped into one another, were shocked that they didn’t fall to the floor in a Coronavirus coma. Furthermore, the police didn’t zoom on by and slap them with an outrageous fine. Empowered by the relative safety of the situation, they removed their masks. They inched closer to one another. And they began dancing with joy, knowing they were safe in every way.
But we all know the truth. And the truth can literally kill.
A Blissful Wedding
So the wedding was blissful… but terrifying. And I stood there with my mask on, and the hand sanitizer left my pocket more than a few times.
So why did I go, you may ask?
Well, for one, I have been yearning to be around other people for months now. This wasn’t exactly going to be the social scene I’d been looking for. But it was still something. And Israel has been rapidly putting the restrictions to the side. I’m not quite ready to put the virus behind me, but it’s starting to feel like the majority of the country has just moved on.
A Wedding To Be At
In addition, this was a beautiful friend who I wanted to see in his greatest glory. I watched him come to Israel a couple of years ago, young and clueless. Not quite knowing what the next few years would be like. I certainly don’t think he expected his own wedding was in the near future. I wanted to see his smile. I wanted to watch him dance with glee. And I got to see all of that and more!
Also, weddings in the time of Corona are an extremely difficult prospect. The wedding was initially announced before any of us knew how serious this virus was. And the family started buying up their plane tickets. Under ordinary circumstances, the wedding would have been jam-packed with friends and family who had come quite the distance to celebrate.
But now it was down to next to none.
It’s at the point where every number counts. Every guest is noticeable and contributes to the joy. Not to mention, someone needs to tell the guy holding the “Zoom” computer to lift it up a little higher. Someone needed to capture the groom and his brother dancing together, so the parents who couldn’t come have some visual to hold onto forever.
Joy without Regret
And most of all, I fear regret. I fear looking back ten years from now, seeing that I could have celebrated this glorious day, and chose not to. I’ve done that before. With far smaller excuses. And the regret burns. It can’t happen again. I won’t let it.
It’s a few weeks later. I’m still healthy. My family’s safe. I helped make a lot of people very happy.
Time will tell if I made the right decision.
In the meantime, I’m happy I saw a little glimmer of joy during this prolonged period of suffering.
May we never need to hesitate before celebrating our greatest joys together!
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