Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ten to the Power of One

I found a mystery of ten
or it found me
and will not let me go

Some tens are easy:
Chiseled in stone
carved and cut
commandments of
and justice

But this was a different ten,
uncarved and
not so clearly cut

at least not to me

This was a cantillation of ten
a kabbalah of prayer.
This was
a way to get from ten to

I thought
I remembered
the why of this ten
I thought
I was taught
that this ten
this minyan of men
-- at first just of men
though later we counted too;
we women could stand
with the best of them
with the least of them
with all of them
all of us
Our voices could carry
could ascend
like sweet smoke rising from
old altars
to reach the ears of God,
but it took at least ten
of all of us

I thought
I was taught
in my own days of old
before ever I reached the heights of ten
that the ten of this assembly
came of one man who thought
he could stay the hand
of God
with a mystery of honest men
of fifty
then forty
no lower than ten

But the righteous had fled
or perhaps had never been
not there

Later I thought
I was taught
that ten comes from twelve
Twelve were sent out
and twelve returned
laden with tales of power
and bounty.
Ten told of giants
and doubt
though two stood firm
in the palm of God's hand

Ten swayed the seventy
who swayed the whole nation
the becoming
and dusty
and ragtag
Ten swayed the seventy
who stayed the many
the multitude
of men
and women
together they counted
and feared
and doubted
and turned
like Lot's wife,
they turned back
turned to stone

The power of ten
could turn a world
to unmoving stone
cast out
to wander in dust
and there to find hope
in fluid grace
to find one another
from stone to
to One
we call
one to another
and all together
a numerology of praise
a cantillation
and kabbalah--
A prayer to the power of ten

And this,
the rabbis tell us,
this is the why of it
the heart and the soul of if it:
the power of ten--
this is the community assembled
this power of ten
the power to change the world
This I was taught
This I believe


This I believed in
and rejoiced
in sacred hallelujahs
This I believed


Until there was a time
I was filled with
and doubt
my knees bent
and buckled
and I was bowed and
by my grief
And in that moment
when I was lost
I was found
I was lifted
by the hands of strangers
and friends
unknown altogether
unseen through my veil of tears
Lifted by ten
redeemed by ten:
Gentle fingers
on deft hands
again and again
carried across a
chasm of grief
found by

This mystery of ten--
it was never
bargains with God
nor fear born of freedom and doubt.
It was never that
that could stay God’s hand
or change the hearts of men
and women who counted

It was
It is
ever and always
     gentle fingers
     and deft hands
     that reach out
     and lift us
     and redeem us
     this mystery of ten
     this power of ten
ten to the power of One
Yad b’yad


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Soul's Fire

I stood
Poised at the gate
And sent a prayer out
On the wings of my hope.

  I prayed--
     and light.
  I called--
     and faith.
  I whispered,
     and truth.

I stood
Poised at the gate,
And a song poured forth
Lit by the fire of my soul,
Tempered by the want of my heart.

Redeem me,
  I cried--
     make me whole.
Heal me,
  I sang--
     bring me peace.
Return me,
  I said--
     deliver my soul.

I stood
Letting breath fill me
And light
And hope
They filled me and
Flowed through me

Blessings! I prayed.
Heal me, redeem me, make me whole

I stood at the gate,
So filled with longing
and light
And hope
I walked through at last
And so became my prayer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Modah Ani

We walked
From one place to another
In quiet wonder at the rising of the morning.

Light filled us
And color.
Under canopies of gold
Shot through with green
And strong branches
Flecked with a suddenness of blue
Stretching halfway to forever.
Geese and crows
Sang their psalms
To the One
Of Creation and
A murmurous mix of
The shuffles of leaves
A muffled crunch
Signaling summer's slow end
Soft-voiced under canopies of gold.

Chill air coiled around my fingers
My bare-skinned fingers
And the rough bark of
Bare trees
Suddenly bared
Gently, sweetly bared
Yet rough
Edged in hardness
And sudden sweet chill.

They began
They ended
Distinct and edged
In beginning to end
What I saw
What I heard
What I felt
On that wondrous
That glorious
That holy walk we took
To greet the rising of the day.

That scent of morning
On that shared path
That leaf-edged path--
The morning scents were
Were not quite
And in-between

They urged me on
Brought me here to this edge
Quickening me to this light-filled edge
This beginning
this ending
Of earth and sky
With such fullness
A richness of sound and light and still,
With an ever-present


To my teachers and friends
all of you who walked this path with me
and filled me with light
thank you.
Shabbat Shira 2012/5773