By Carol Devine, Jack Mapstone, Julia Levine, Melissa Kaplan
Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories here. Submit your own here.
This morning I was working for a long-time client, an elderly widowed woman. A breezy, uneasy day. Usually embraced by a hug and a â€œglad to have you back,â€ today I stood at the edge of the driveway and yelled a quick â€œhow are you,â€ but no sign of embrace, physical or emotional. A sadness rushed over me as I pulled last yearâ€™s rotted stems from the recently thawed tundra, the same rush weâ€™ve all felt in many parts of our lives, a disconnect. Underneath, as layers of leaves were removed, budding stems. Underneath, hope.
â€” Jack Mapstone (Stillwater, Minnesota)
* * *
My familyâ€™s tradition, second-night Seders. No family this year but the Seder plate is prepared: lamb bone, egg, charoset, bitter herbs, karpas, lettuce. Salt water. Three matzoh. Wine. Andâ€¦the Haggadah? Not the simplistic Maxwell House. Not the Manischewitz version with more God mentions than this agnostic can handle. The one my dad and I carefully edited, maintaining the essential meaning, allowing all gathered to thoughtfully, joyfully participate. Two years since he died. Three since a family Seder. What matters? I hear him questioning, challenging us. Freedom. Freedom from slavery matters, for all creatures and for our planet.
â€” Melissa Kaplan (Lansing, Michigan)
* * *
WE ARE WE AND THE DRC
My colleague asked if anyone had an empty home for a medical couple and their baby returning from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, so they could do two weeks quarantine. We circulated a callout. I didnâ€™t know who was coming or where theyâ€™d stay. But on a virtual work call they appeared and told a harrowing story â€“ shortage of personal protective equipment, causing moral distress for humanitarians wanting to respond, tensions rising, planning for palliative care versus survival for a number of coronavirus patients. They also told of gratitude for colleagues, home, and hope â€“ local mask-making, grit, the human drive to help heal, anywhere, everywhere.
â€” Carol Devine (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
* * *
ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS
We greet each other at the virtual Seder table â€“ in turn, as the video chat allows.
â€œHow are you? Whoâ€™s in New York?â€
Four generations gather with food and wine, in celebration of our freedom as Jewish people.
An imperative that we continue imagining and building a world where all are free.
Unique meaning in this current crisis, a rehearsal for the climate crisis.
We say, â€œNext year in Jerusalem,â€ nodding to the Israelities who wandered the desert for forty years after Moses led the liberation.
Now we say, â€œNext year in person.â€
What will the next generation say?
â€” Julia Levine (New York, New York)
Top photo: A Cohen/Levine Virtual Seder, photo by Rich Cohen (Lanesborough, MA).
This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog
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