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In Desperate Need of a Charge

In Desperate Need of a Charge

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I got up on time and made my way down to the kitchen table, bleary-eyed but determined. Yawning, I sat down at the computer for my morning learning session and picked up the phone, ready to call my friend. We read theSomething is off-kilter in the charging port daily study chapters together most mornings. I missed a few sessions last week and wanted to get back in gear.

Darn! My phone’s been really weird about charging the last few days. Seems like something is off-kilter in the charging port. I’ve had to juggle the charger, wiggle it around, get it in exactly the right place and the right angle for that elusive, all-important red light to go on. Last night I was sure I had it angled just right, set it carefully on the counter and thought it was charging, but now it won’t even turn on.

I jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. I set it down, and that red dot fades into oblivion. Again, again. The clock is ticking. My friend is only available for a short time. I try holding the charger in exactly the right place with one hand while I turn on my computer with the other.

I’m kind of laughing (and kind of disappointed with myself for being so trivial), as I watch my inner panic mount. “I can’t just sit here all day holding this charger and jiggling it, can I? I guess I need a new phone, but I can’t even call anyone to ask their recommendation, I have no idea where to start.” Visions of wrestling with phone companies, getting convinced to buy a phone with all kinds of blings I don’t need for a price I can’t afford does not make me happy.

My “To Do” list flashes through my mind. “I won’t be able to do anything. No WhatsApp. No texting. All those messages waiting to be responded to. I’m cut off from the world.

I think of Shabbat, when we somehow manage without this buzz of lights, messages and electronic screens. But today is Monday, when the world and all its issues loom, waiting for me to dive into them. I can’t even call my husband to complain that I can’t call him—or anyone else, for that matter. What fun is being upset without being able to kvetch? I could send him an email, but he won’t get to his computer for a few hours.

Then I realize, if I’m really just sitting here holding this charger in, I could daven, say the morning prayers. I did say brochos already, the morning blessings at the beginning of the service, which I say before I eat or learn Torah.

Here I am. I might as well make use of the time. Maybe I can kind of hold the phone with one hand and the siddur (prayerbook) with the other, or perch it on the table near the plug outlet.

I start, but I’m much more focused on that charge light than G‑d. Read a few words, glance back. Is it still charging? Jiggle. Read a few more.

The irony hits me.

OK, my phone’s not working, But it’s morning. I’m alive. At the start of a new week. With a functioning body and so much to be grateful for. I suddenly see myself as an empty vessel, much like my poor phone, empty of charge. What is prayer but humbly asking G‑d to fill me, to charge me. First of all, with the gift of life.

With purpose, with strength, with clarity for the seemingly millions of decision and challenges, large and small, that I will have to navigate in the day ahead.

Please, just charge me. Fill me. Let Your light flow into me, and the charge light not waver. I humbly ask You, please charge me.

I finally put the blasted phone down, getting my prioritiesI suddenly see myself as an empty vessel straight, at least for a few seconds. I pick up the siddur with both hands and just absorb this message. I feel the humble hope that G‑d will fill this flawed and temperamental (like my phone) vessel with renewal and the mindfulness to go about my day remembering who it’s really for, what it’s really all about. Remembering that our stuff and our busy tasks are just tools for bringing light and goodness into the world.

Among the 18 prayers of the Amidah, we ask G‑d to “graciously grant us wisdom, understanding and knowledge.”

And He does! Once I calm down, pray with focus and get a little bit of realigning of priorities, He blesses me with insight. As I gently close the siddur, I get a flash.

I quickly take a piece of electric tape out of my junk drawer, and wind it around the base. It holds the charger in exactly the right place.

As I write, my phone is happily charging, I am happily getting my week going with a whisper of realization of what it’s really about hanging over my shoulder and keeping me connected, keeping me charged.

Miriam Karp is an award-winning writer, artist, Judaic studies teacher and lecturer. Her paintings explore intimate moments in Jewish life. Her first book, Painting Zaidy’s Dream: A Memoir of a Searching Soul, shares her story of search. Miriam lives in Cincinnati with her husband and family. Visit her website here.
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