Purim was hectic. We heard the Megilla (the story of Ester and Mordechai and the wicked Haman who gets his just desserts) late on Saturday night after Shabbat finished. It was a quick costume change for child and hurrying to shule to get there just as they finished saying the Brachot (blessings) for the reading of the Megilla and had started around persuk (verse) five or six of the first chapter. Already too LATE! So we went to another person's place to listen to it read very capably by her husband. For mothers, getting the kids there to shule minutes after Shabbes finishes in summer was really an up hill task. A friend of mine told me about Shabbes's in London that start and finish late, after 11pm in mid summer. Now that you need to be in your mid teens to your late thirties to really appreciate. I think once most of us hit the big 4 OH we start to say 'Hey, time to slow it down and for some it was 5 OH and others it is 6 OH. Most of us just cannot take the late nights like we used to do. It's called WATOB - Wear And Tear On Body.
The next day we went to Gilly's Early Learning Centre. One of the best, if not the best of accredited Jewish Early Learning Centres in East St Kilda and North Caulfield. I might be biased as my son spent nearly two years there and they were in one word, 'Amazing'. The atmosphere there is very homey and warm with out being unprofessional. All their staff either have their Childcare Certificate IV or are in the process of training towards it.
They were doing a Mexican Purim theme with spicy food. It was in two words "totally fabulous', but then Gilly's is the epitome of Gilly who is a person who give 150% along with her sister Talli, to whatever they do, whether it is running a childcare centre,doing chesed in the community and outside of it. they do a lot of things that no one ever hears about because frankly people like these two women are so busy doing chesed, running their business and looking after their families - they do not have time to talk about it or to talk Loshon Hara about others. They are simply too busy doing good. They are amazing role models and I for one, am very glad my son went to their creche.
I had experienced two creches before my son came to Gilly's early Learning Centre.
In fact the last non Jewish creche (ABC in Deniliquin) he was at, he kept saying to me, many times that the woman who looked after him hurt him. There were no bruises. I often wondered why he persistently said that but was too traumatised by what I had been put through up there to start to deal with it. I do remember the woman in charge Mandy saying to me, when I came to pick him up for one of the last times he was there and I was fighting back tears as I told her that I had lost my teaching position at Deniliquin High School and would no longer be able to afford to keep him in the creche, 'OH. good, she said, NOW you can be a REAL mother to your son.' Then she chuckled.
I realised later how much they must have hated the fact that I had a profession and was earning a good salary. It was so pathetic that they felt they had to try to destroy my earning potential to bring me down to their level. The level of the town grubs that have four or five children sometimes more to different fathers and are lying about on pensions for most of their lives. I will never be at that level and I will be dead first. G-D only knows what trauma my poor kid suffered at that creche that he had to keep repeating to me 'Cabel hurt me. Cabel hurt me.' Day in day out and I was only half listening to him because I was trying to think what I was going to do for a living and how to earn money to support myself and him. I spent days so highly anxious about how I was going to earn a living that I used to have heart palpitations and could not sleep for days on end. That was when I started writing and praying again. I did pray before but it was shallow prayer and meaningless, compared to prayer that comes from real pain and anguish that leaves you shaking like a tree in hurricane.
You see I do not give up hope.I believe you have to cling to the tree of life with your heart and soul. I believe Hashem rules this world and things happen because Hashem is in charge of us all. We can make choices but ultimately it is G-D who is in control. I believe with utmost faith that it is G-D who allows things to happen and we can make ourselves a receptacle for brachot (blessings) or we can close ourselves off from G-D and G-Dly blessings.
Whenever we hurt someone else or go out to be spiteful to another person, we receive back what we give out. That is why I try to make sure now that even if people are nasty to me or spiteful, I do not give it back to them, but let it go. I place myself out of harm's way for the sake of my son and those around me.
There is this Chassidic tale. Aren't there some of the greatest chassidic parables for every incident we have in life? The sun and the wind saw a chosid walking up the hill in his kapote. It was a nice day. They had been having an argument about who was the strongest. So they made a deal that the one who could get the chosid to take off his long black coat /kapote would be the winner - the stronger of the two.
The wind laughed at the sun and winked. I'll go first it said and you will not need to even try. I will have his coat off in a jiffy. The sun simply smiled. Ok it said.
So the wind rose up and blew and blew and blew. The branches of the trees lining the road were whipped around and leaves flew off them. Within minutes there was a virtual hurricane of wind sound ripping through the air, leaves and debris flying high and the day had become dark and overcast. the chosid pulled his coat tighter around his body and head bent into the storm, he forged on. Try as he might the wind could not budge the coat from that chosid's shoulders and body. Finally the wind gave up panting and exhausted.
Ok, he scoffed. You go. The sun rose up smiling warmly. He beamed warmth and heat towards the shattered and battered trees and the chosid who was walking up the rise of the hill with his coat wrapped tightly around him. Soon it was as hot as a furnace. Heat curled the recently fallen leaves and the chosid he undid his coat and opened it up all the way. He walked on and finally after a few more minutes, he took off the coat and put it over his arm and walked on up the hill and even rolled up his shirt sleeves.
There are some interesting thoughts to be drawn from that. It is my favourite chasidic story because it illustrates so aptly two different approaches to life and living. That is not to say that we never need the wind and only need sunshine. We need both to live in a balanced way.