Making Circles, Finding Stillness | Parashat Vayeshev — By Rabbi Sara Sapadin

November 21, 2021

Every year at Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law’s father organizes what we call a gratitude circle. There is no talking in the circle, only listening, to the quiet autumn breeze, the sweet birdsong, or the still small voice within. He insists upon the circle that we might break free from the noise and commotion of the day. Still, it’s never easy herding the masses outside, tearing them away from their turkey and football, shooing them out the front door. But once we make it to the yard, and once we manage to form a shape that passes for round, we all take a collective breath. It’s good to be here.

Our lives are so busy. There is little time in our often-relentless schedules for such things as gratitude circles. Living in overdrive, we are always running and rushing. It is utterly exhausting, but at the same time, unimaginably difficult to stop. That is why, for some, the early Covid quarantines came with a silver lining: a forced pause from this endless stream of activity, a break from the madness, so to speak. This deadly virus, which obligated us all to remain home, ironically provided a respite from the feverish pace so many had come to consider normal. But nothing about this intense pace is normal.