Three days after a sacred sanctuary of prayer in Pittsburgh was violated in the most cruel manner, I showed up at a synagogue. Not just any synagogue, but a national landmark — a place that might have a target on it on any day of the year.
With hundreds of other people, I showed up at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue for an interfaith prayer vigil in memory of the 11 Jewish lives taken in the brutal attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, as well as the two victims of a shooting in Kentucky earlier last week.
I showed up to pray. I showed up to be in community. I showed up to be counted among those who will not give in to violence and hate, who will not be cowed by threats and attacks.
This was not my original plan for Tuesday night, but when I received an email about the vigil from the rabbi of my synagogue, I knew instinctively that I had to attend.
Some moments call for rearranging the schedule so that we can show up somewhere. I heard the calling and I responded.
It’s easy to show up in good times. When we know we’ll be safe, when the mood is joyful and celebratory, we want to show up.
It’s harder to show up in times of threat and challenge, fear and despair, loss and death. We don’t want to look at the grief.
But here’s what I’ve noticed: the willingness to hold space for grief — whether of a friend, our community, or our own — is transformative. Not just for others, but for ourselves.
There’s no greater testament of the human spirit, of our resilience, courage, and bravery, than our willingness to show up in tough times. This is true whether we are showing up for a friend who is going through a loss or in community for collective mourning.
The work of healing begins by showing up.
Showing up does not mean playing the blame and shame game. That’s just more escape.
Showing up means being with life as it is. It begins by facing the grief, acknowledging the pain, being with the emotion of the moment.
Showing up is not something we do only after a big tragic event.
Showing up is a daily practice. It starts with a willingness to show up for yourself, to be present to your own experience, so that you can show up in full presence for others.
In these times, we need everyone to show up.