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Be Where You Are

Be Where You Are

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I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing with my time these days. My lifestyle had been largely altered due to my health. The simple act of breathing had become quite a chore. I was listed for a double-lung transplant. It is an unpleasant illness, Emphysema.

So what to do with my days? I surely was not going to spend them just thinking about all the things I would be able to do again, G‑d willing, after the transplant. And who knew when the call would come?

Life has purpose. Life has meaning. We are supposed to be contributing to this world. I found myself feeling alone and not worth very much. After all, what could I do to contribute to this world, lately?

As a Jew, I could not even go to shul (synagogue). Most times I couldn't go for Shabbos dinner at my Rabbi's, which had becomes such a highlight in my week. Torah class was becoming more and more difficult to attend. Really, I saw my options diminish. I certainly was becoming depressed and I didn't want a pill. These were understandable reasons for not feeling like a million dollars.

I did what I usually do when I have exhausted my own brain for answers. I go to my Rabbi.

One afternoon I got to shul and waited for him in the library. We had an appointment and I was early, so sitting in the new library with all the books and the comfortable couches was particularly inviting. The atmosphere so peaceful; all the books; the sun streaming through the windows. I felt peaceful. Already, I felt peaceful. Even with the small oxygen tank next to me on the couch, I lay down, resting, waiting, for someone to tell me my Rabbi had arrived.

After a short while, Rabbi New came into the library. After a few words we decided it would be best to speak there. No need to get up and go to his office. More energy, more strain. No, this was just fine, where we were.

"Rabbi", I asked, "What am I supposed to be doing with my days? I cannot go to shul. I cannot come to class. Shopping and other activities are difficult. OK, the hairdresser is a necessity...." And we laughed. "What does a Jew do when he cannot do what seem to be the simplest of things?"

You know, I knew his answer would be something very simple. He has the ability to crystallize a complex question into a seemingly-easy solution.

"Masha," he said, with his kind eyes smiling, "It's really very easy." (I was smiling from the inside out and listening to his every word)... "Every day, read Chumash, Tanya, the Psalms, say Grace after meals, give Tzedekah, charity. I assure you, your days will be full."

"But Rabbi, how am I helping others with this? Isn't this selfish? Just doing all this for me? I can't even come to shul and be a part of the process...”

His words were clear. “G‑d doesn't need you in shul if you are too ill to come. G‑d needs you to do what you can. And certainly giving Tsedakah, making brochas, doesn't just help you. It helps the entire Jewish people and the world. Doing these things elevate everyone and everything. No, Masha, this is not just for you. Do these things, just do these things...”

I was quiet. I was happy. My rabbi had spoken and told me something I probably knew anyway but I needed my teacher to speak these words in a tone that reverberated in my heart. I needed to be where he was to get the message. And so, I was.

That week, on Shabbat morning, I rose quite early. I prayed with my Siddur, prayerbook. It was a beautiful day and I went downstairs to sit outside on my porch with my prayer books to read, to pray, to enjoy Shabbat in the sunshine. There I sat and behold, walking down the middle of my street at seven in the morning, were three young men wearing kepas, dressed in suits, passing by my house. Obviously, they were on their way to shul.

I nodded a hello in their direction. Hmm....no acknowledgement. Finally, a few moments later, I mustered up some breathing power and said, "Good Shabbos!"

The three of them stopped. One of them started to backtrack and approached my driveway. "Excuse me, but do you know where Manuel Street is?"

I smiled. They were halfway there, to the shule, in either direction. I told the young man he could proceed directly in front of him and make two turns, or turn back and proceed directly making two turns in the opposite direction.

He smiled. He thanked me. He wished me a Good Shabbos. I believe these three men got to where they were going. I had been sitting on my porch and and transported to shule for Shabbat, by giving directions. I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Just like my Rabbi said and what G‑d had expected from me.

Be where you are. G‑d will find you.

Melody Masha Pierson is a 51-year-old Jewish woman in Montreal, and member of the Chabad Montreal Torah Centre. She is the happy and grateful recipient of a new pair of lungs following a double lung transplant. It was her writing and Torah learning that provided her with the strength and faith to stay positive and productive through her challenging time. Melody can be heard weekly on Montreal's Radio Shalom.
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M H December 13, 2010

tracy, if you search for g-d on chabad.org, you'll find an explanation. if the search term comes up as too broad, try looking for g-d somewhere else, such as in the parsha section. generally, the word highlights to an explanatory link on the chabad.org site. Reply

Melody Masha Pierson Montreal, Canada December 9, 2010

Hi Tracey,
I am so pleased you like and appreciate what I wrote. Mant a time that second line just falls from Muslim by way of my brain through to my fingers...but I think we all know so much of this but we forget as we leave childhood.
As for the - ... Well we are told never to write the full name less it gets thrown in the trash or defiled, even by accident. There are other reasons I can't remember right now. I always remind my self never to davenport or say HIS name in the bathroom. Feh...a terrible afront. Hope this helps! Reply

Tracy Clanton Woodrdige, Il/USA December 6, 2010

Hi there! I found your article through a search on google. "Be where you are" I have never head the additional line - G-d will find you. I love it.

I also wonder why did you substitute the - for o? Reply

Patricia via chabadpasadena.com April 13, 2008

I appreciate this article more and more Melody. For what could be absent in one place or another that our own hearts could not reveal to us?
I wish you continued good health and a wonderful passover. Reply

Anonymous palm harbor, florida May 18, 2007

loved your story. have lost the strength to even write. but i can pray
Reply

Anonymous Washington, DC February 14, 2007

Dear Melody Masha Pierson:
Thank you for a great article! I was confined at home with asthma for three years at one point, and can identify with your desire to continue "doing Jewish," even though your activities are restricted by lung problems.

By chance, I am benefitting from your article today as I am home from leg surgery, and not feeling Jewishly useful. Your article was a mood lifter and reminder of ways to keep "doing Jewish" during illness.

May G-d send you a complete recovery. Many blessings on your good work.

Reply

Jo Anne Kelly Rudy November 20, 2006

You are a very brave girl and I am very proud of you. Keep the faith.
Reply

Annee Shore San Diego, CA-USA September 13, 2006

Enjoyed reading about a woman that is in dire need. it helped me to read her story.You have been a BLESSING TO ME. Reply

daphna September 8, 2006

This is such an inspiring and beautiful message. Reply

Victoria Bradbury London,, England September 6, 2006

Melody, I loved your story, it brought warmth to my heart and soul. Never doubt that God is with you as he recognises that you are with him all of the time. Enjoy and do the best you can each day. Reply

Anonymous Akron, OH September 6, 2006

Shalom Masha:
Do not worry, friend, that you are not being a productive Jew. Your gifted writing will inspire thousands of Jews all over the world. I have some physical problems which prevent me from being as active a mother as I would like. But, how can I possibly feel other than productive after reading your essay? I can still inspire my children in many ways. I am going to print your essay out, and give it to my rabbi, so that he can distribute to congregants who are elderly, ill, etc.
Please, keep the writing up, even after you G-d wiling get the transplants!
Reply

Anonymous Brainerd, MN/USA September 5, 2006

This is exactly what I needed to hear. I already knew in my heart what you said, but just like you I needed to hear it, or in this case read it. It makes me feel good when someone comes to me with a problem or just needs someone to listen. I am not just taking up space, I am waiting like a vessel on a shelf. Thank you. Reply

Yvette Leeds, UK September 5, 2006

May Hashem bring you good health and soon. Your post was so uplifting, if someone in your position can find a way to stay positive, I have no excuses for feeling miserable and complaining. Thank you so much. Reply

Patricia Huff via chabadpasadena.com September 3, 2006

Dear Melody,
Hashem bless you and make you well. You are with him at all times. I love your article. Your name will bring you blessing with music and your heart a love that is never absent. Reply

Lavonne Neatherlin Carlsbad, NM 88220 September 3, 2006

Melody....your story is beautiful and I enjoyed it so much. I am also on oxygen 24/7 and can relate to everything you are saying.

Reply

Ione Driggs Muskego, WI. USA September 3, 2006

Melody, I enjoyed your letter and it does say it all. I am not a Jew but I do know God. I also know that I am exactly where God needs me at this point in time. I do wish you the best and hope your TX will be soon. Much love. Reply