About Me

My photo

I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open My Lips: reflections on the Amidah

It's funny, but when I was a kid, I thought that the Amidah was The Silent Prayer (intoned portentously, with a deep and booming echo).  We would stand.  We would mumble some Hebrew-sounding words.  And then we would go silent. 

There were no instructions, no words of wisdom from the bima to bend and bow, chant or sing or speak.  Nothing.  But we all went silent together.  Our prayer book contained some Hebrew, but mostly old and dusty English, littered with "thees" and "thous" and a very male (and very stand-offish, kind of angry) God on high.  So, we would come to this silently screeching halt, and I would try to keep focus, read the English (but really: who could get through that English with a straight face) (or worse, stay awake while reading it), and wait (fidget) until time started up again in a forward motion.

Who knew?

Who knew the sweetness, the power, the community contained in the Amidah?  Why did no one ever tell me of the raw vulnerability offered at its start, and the answers that can be found later in its passion and hope?  Yes, there is silence, but not the silence of the fidgety and bored.  Rather, it's the silence of  thought and consideration and yearning.  It ascends in a delicate spiral, a plea-- for connection, for redemption, for past and present, peace and holiness.  It is all there, a silent prayer, shared.

So, my own offering, another of my Bar Mitzvah poems.  This one a reflection on the Amidah.  Feel free to read it aloud. <3

Open My Lips

It is a reaching out
A yearning
Desire wrapped in longing
Despair wrapped in joy
We cry out into darkness
And luminous silence
And glorious, sheltering peace
And offer
The sacrifice of
Of what?
What do we sacrifice?
What do we place on the altar of our hope?
It is not what we pray that matters
It is, ever and always
That we pray
That changes us
And redeems us
And heals us
Prayer is the heart of us
The center of us
We open our lips
And let our souls fly