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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.

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