For the most part, life is pretty predictable in South Florida.  With the exception of hurricanes (which we can at least prepare for), traffic, and our own personal ups and downs, we know what to expect when we start our day.  Unlike other geographical regions of our country, we don’t really have to worry about the ground suddenly shaking beneath us.  Usually, we don’t have to think about what the weather is going to be like – we just wake up and begin our day.  When we compare our lives to those in other countries, we appreciate how safe and stable our lives are.  Most of us don’t feel unsafe outside of our home.  Despite political disagreements and some serious national and international issues, our government is stable.  Our grocery stores are stocked.  Our money, what is left of it, is in the bank.  And our electricity is running.  Life is good.

All of this being said, you would have thought that the world had come to an end this week in South Florida.  The angst over the unusually cold temperatures could be felt everywhere.  Miserable faces, many lucky enough to be wrapped in outdated scarves, were commonplace.  Children, uncertain what to do with all the extra clothing their parents had thrown on them, looked stunned and confused.  Life in South Florida was turned upside down.  This week, life stopped being predictable and many hated it.

South Floridians live in a world that we think is so controllable.  We are hot, we turn on the air conditioning.  We are cold, we get out of the shade.  We are hungry we order in.  We want a mini-vacation, we drive to the beach.  We want exciting nightlife, we visit South Beach.  So many “luxuries” are at our fingertips.  Freezing temperatures don’t fit into our lifestyles.  No matter how high we cranked up the heat, we couldn’t control the chill.   And in this world that seems so controllable, that was upsetting.

This week’s weather was a really important reminder: no matter how in control we think we are, there are aspects of our life we just can’t control.  Once you accept this basic idea, you have accepted the fact that there is a power out there that is greater than you.  Once you believe this, you actually believe in God because God is what we cannot control.

As we experienced this week, we don’t often like what we cannot control.  That is because we feel powerless, unable to change things and make them they way we want them to be.  It is during these times that we need to discover the blessings that come with having no power to change things – like the joy watching your children attempt to put earmuffs on for the first time, the realization that your car has seat warmers, the discovery that hot chocolate and your fireplace do have purposes, the ability to wear the sweaters that your grandmother made for you, the opportunity to snuggle under a really warm blanket with the people you love, or the simple pleasure of warm slippers and flannel pajamas.

Once you allow yourself to experience the blessings of those things we cannot control, you actually experience God.  Yes, God is what cannot be controlled.   At the same time, God is our ability to discover that even when we are powerless, we can be quite content.  This is why I believe that God can be experienced in a warm pair of slippers and flannel pajamas.

This weekend is supposed to be even colder than it was this week.  Stay warm and discover the joys of a chilly winter weekend.


  1. George Farron Reply

    10,000 years ago, florida was under the ocean, thus the limestone base under our “crabgrass” lawns! The North Pole was a tropical forest, with just the slightest tilt of the earth’ axis.
    Mother nature is in control. If humans don’t stop depleting natural resources, mother nature will stop us.

  2. Caryn Amster Reply

    Thank you, Rabbi for the wisdom shared about loss of control. Yes, the weather is one reminder of how G-d manifests Him/Herself, and, yes, She has found Herself in my infrequently worn flannel p.j’s this week! It is also a reminder of how much we take for granted living in glorious S. Florida!
    Adapting to change is another challenge that eludes me from time to time. Going with the flow and focusing on that which I am grateful for has proven to be very helpful in the midst of these moments. I heard a verse that a newly blind woman recited that assisted her in making dramatic life changes as she shifted from a state of depression to one of triumph. It goes like this:
    I am safe
    I am happy
    I am healthy
    I live with ease.
    You can also change the words to match that which you are trying to create! (as I have often done) If you repeat this phrase often you can feel the internal shift. Self talk can be a profound tool for changing your consciousness!

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