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These past three months have raised complex and often contradictory feelings in our hearts. Whenever we find ourselves in crisis or in grief, we find a multiplicity of emotions washing over us at the same time. For example, at the time of death, I will often hear family members speak about feeling relief in the person no longer suffering while also shedding tears at the same time. In a piece posted on eJewishphilanthropy, I am Doing, I am Still, we are presented with similar paradoxical feelings about the quarantine through the eyes of a high school Junior.

The best way to describe my quarantine is “a paradox prayer,” a phrase I’m borrowing from a friend, Chloe Zelkha, who leads Avodat Lev (service of the heart), a virtual space of prayer, poetry, and groundedness. Inspired by Rabbi Simcha Bunim, one of the founders of Hasidism, Chloe recently asked, “If you were carrying two slips of paper in your pocket, two opposite truths that tell the story of a big both/and coming up for you in this moment, what might they say?”

The responses were varied and moving. They reflect how many of us are feeling.

“To be alive at this time is terrifying // to be alive at this time is inspiring.”

“This too shall pass // this will have lasting impacts.”

“We are safe // we are vulnerable.”

“It is okay to be happy // it is okay to be sad.”

“I am strong // I need help.”

“It is time for vigilance // it is time for ease.”

“It is too much to hold // my heart has infinite capacity.”

I am struck by how much these thoughts are underlying the lived experience for so many of us at the moment. I believe that in reflecting on the above question posed, to carry around opposite truths as both/and, we can learn to better engage with our hearts and further care for ourselves.