With the start of this week, I have officially entered my post-Sandy life. A little more than a week ago, I was beginning think that the end of days was approaching or at least a recreation of the 10 plagues. After all, between the hurricane, the snow storm, the blackout, and then the gas shortage, life was feeling sort of bleak.

Or was it?

Yes, as a school principal, I was filled with anxiety over the lost instructional time and worrying about my students, their families, and the faculty. Could we open school? Should we open school?

Yes, we had been hit with a major disruption to learning and, in many ways, this week has felt like the first week of school all over again.

Yes, my kids’ lives got turned upside down once more. As a father and a husband, I was worried about the potential damage to our home and concerned about when my daughters would experience normal life again.

When I look back, though, I have a different sort of feeling that seems to override the anxiety of the moment. It is a feeling of contentment and satisfaction with my lot in life. I’ve just had the opportunity to spend significant quality time with my daughters while we waited for the lights to turn back on. We read stories, played games, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. We drew closer with new friends who truly demonstrated what it meant to engage in hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) when they took us into their home during the hurricane. I learned about the power that our community has as I worked to facilitate a charging and respite center at our synagogue. I enjoyed sharing communal responsibility for meals, cleaning, and even child rearing with four families who had blended together during the storm and its aftermath as well as with the others who joined us for a meal or two. I gained a new found appreciation for the power that electricity has in my life and how for granted we take so many of the luxuries in our lives that’s had previously thought of as necessities.

So, I’m going to say something that in the midst of the last two weeks that I thought I would never say, thank you Sandy. Thank you for pulling me closer to friends and family, thank you for showing me the beauty of  hachnasat orchim and the importance of community, and thank you for teaching me that things that I have taken for granted are really luxuries.