Thursday, January 24, 2013

Enough, and then some

I have a new friend. My newest of the 719 friends that Facebook has so kindly cataloged and alphabetized for me. I have never met her. Our friendship began when another friend, who is also friends with this woman, happened to almost introduce us on Twitter, by mentioning us in the same tweet.

Let us rejoice in the miracle of social media.

Twitter with a twist, though: in a fit of pixelated bravery, I sent a friend request via Facebook, along with a note, to let her know of our tenuous, almost-connection, just in case she had missed the nuance of it. In case she thought I was just a sad and lonely Facebook stalker-girl. Or maybe she assumed I was that anyway, and was just being kind to that lonely and sad stalker-girl. Who knew? But the request was sent, the offer accepted.  Friends for life.

From 718 to 719 in the blink of an eye, the click of a mouse.

Here's the thing though: in the space between clicks, that smallest of moments from one blink to the next, I took a ride in my own private Way Back Machine. In that instant, I was suddenly fourteen again: standing at the popular kids' table-- me, the chubby, gawky, self-conscious, too smart for her own good, too sarcastic for anyone's good, hopeful yet nonchalantly desperate girl-- asking if I could eat lunch. At their table. With them.  

Please, oh please-- let them not laugh. Let them not be disdainful. More, let them not be indifferent.  Let them be kind. Please God, please let them be kind. This is my secret prayer, a ritual mantra that pounds in twisty rhythms on my heart so loudly I'm sure it can be heard halfway across the crowded cafeteria. See me, in all my awkward glory, and let that be enough. Let me be enough.

A friend request sent, and in a timeless blink, time shifted, effortlessly. I stood, a geeky, frizzy supplicant before those perfect, pretty people. They betrayed no fraying edges, no unraveling of their perfect, pretty little lives (right?). These were the magic few who fit. Comfortably in their own skins, they wore their lives with such graceful ease. They were the ones who were handed the Rule Book at birth. Hell; they'd written it (or at least, they'd descended from the people who had). They got it, all of it: life, in all its uncomplicated, unmessy fullness. And, while I may have asked if I could sit at the table, what I meant, with every fiber of my being was "Will you be my friend? Will you make me whole? Will you save me and make me enough?"

At fourteen, it was a rare occasion that I was enough. Of course, it never occurred to me that I was standing at the wrong table. Or maybe I was just asking the wrong questions.

Save me? Make me enough? Really? It took me several decades to learn that these are God jobs, with a little sideways effort from yours truly. They are so not jobs for man nor beast-- nor fourteen year old kids, sitting at a cafeteria table, innocently eating lunch. I found all my flaws, all the empty spaces inside my soul and demanded they be filled. These kids, these Mean Girls and Cheerleaders, the popular, perfect people could never save me from myself.  

Be my friend--  somehow, much to my absolute surprise, I survived the pain of that plaintive request.  Of course, for a long time, I retreated from that pain, and lived as best I could in a tiny universe of one-protected, safe, untouched. And then even that became too painful to bear, and I crawled out of my universe into the world at large, and the same teeming cafeteria, filled with everyone and then some: the Beautiful and the Perfect and the Flawed and the Stumbling. All of us, searching, seeking, yearning for connection and wholeness.  

Will you be my friend? It's no longer a question. It is not "Fill me and find me and make me enough." It is a declaration-- "The bridge is narrow. Let us not be afraid, but walk the narrow places together. Let us shine a light into the dark corners, and take comfort in the light we can share."  

There is such abundance, of light and love and strength. Abundance enough to sing into the darkness, to walk bravely, to be kind. Enough, surely, to risk and ask aloud: "Will you be my friend?"  

Enough to be.  

And that, my friends, is surely enough.

Thank you to my friends Julie Silver, for giving me the keys to the Way Back machine, and to Amy Ferris, who agreed to share her light. What an amazing gift-- to be able to walk a path with you both.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chayei Sarah

I followed you
Through vast deserts and over mountains
Into lush valleys
and across years

I followed you
Though you did not follow me,
Offering me instead to strangers
and angels

I followed you
Into the desert, empty and sere--
Sterile as my womb,
While you built altars
to your God.
And I laughed
And lied
And sent my Handmaid to your bed
To please you
And appease you.

And still I followed you.

I followed you,
Sacrificed my royalty for you,
Watched a Handmaid's child 
Claim a nation

And felt my womb quicken.

Even after 
I followed you 
And laughed at God
And lied--
I felt my womb quicken!

And so I followed you
Drank at your wells
and prayed at your altars
Built to please and appease 
your God.
And you walked through oceans of sand,
Knelt in fertile crescents
Rich and lush as life itself,
Traversed mountains
At the whim of your God.
At the command of God

And on the last mountain
I did not follow.
I watched you walk away,
Walk up that mountain
With our son at your side.
Our son--
Whose life had quickened my womb;
Whose heart had beat in tandem with mine;
Whose hand I held and body I cradled,
Whose fears I eased
And tears I dried--
I did not follow you
While you sacrificed our son
Until the angel stayed your hand.

I will not follow 
Build a nation and altars to God.
I have drunk at your wells,
And laughed, 
And lied;
And watched you walk away,
Watched my son follow you
Up that mountain
Knife in his hand,
The sun silver against that sharpened blade.
He followed,
Your sacrifice 
My son.

And so I will not follow 
I will remain.
Keep your altars
and your God 
I am your sacrifice
And I --
I will not follow.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Early Winter Tale (with apologies to Isaac Luria)

In these days when dark lingers well into the day, and steals away precious minutes of every afternoon, I often wonder about the nature of light.  Me (being me), I leap from light to God to redemption and healing in the blink of an eye-- quicker than thought, more natural than my heartbeat: there it is (there I am)

Merry new year to all.  

Chapter One: in which Heaven and Earth-- and Light-- are created.  
1.  In the beginning, there was God.
2.  God was (is) (will always be) endless and forever.  There was no place that was not God.  In fact, there was no Place.  No Something or Nothing or Anywhere. Not even an Anything as finite as a Somewhere.  There was just God.
3.  And because there was no Place, there was no space into which God could bring forth Creation.  And creating was God's greatest and truest desire.  So into the Infinity that was God, into that Divine Everything, God gathered in Her (His) breath, so that there could be an Emptiness into which there could be created a Somethingness.
4.  And in that breath, into that Divine contraction, God spoke, and the World came to be.  There was Heaven, there was Earth, and into this roiling, riotous, joyous and searing Act, into this rending of the Endlessness into Somethingness, there was Light.
5.  And God declared that it was Good.
6.  Now understand: this was like no  Light you have ever seen.  It was neither sunlight nor starlight (they would not be created for several more Days).  It was the Light of Creation itself.
7. This Light was pure and luminous and filled with Everything that God thought to speak into being.  God didn't miss a thing (as if God could!), The Light of God blazed forth and illuminated the All, growing brighter and brighter, creating shadows where once there was only God.
8.  "What a shame," God thought, "that My Light should overshadow all My other creations."
9.  So God thought to capture His (Her) (or no Pronoun at all) (remember that God is an Endlessness, defying division)-- so God thought to capture the Light, and contain it.

Chapter Two: In which the Light is Contained.  
1.  God crafted ten Vessels, making them from Earth and Air and Fire and Water.
2. (Because God is okay with inconsistency, and even though some of these elements hadn't quite been created yet (and weren't on the docket for several more Days), God didn't let that get in the way of a good story).
3.  Into these Vessels God placed the Light of Creation, that shone with the holiness of God - that illumined the Everything of Creation and Eternity with God's own radiance, and which contained all the sacredness and transcendence that God could gather, but it was an awful lot of holiness to occupy the same Place at the same time as Anything or Everything all at once.
4.  The Light stretched itself up and out, seeking a path in which to flow and leap and dance.  The Vessels, though, were static, being made of Earth and Air and Fire and Water.  They could not hold that holy radiance, though they tried - oh! they tried to stretch with the Light, and move with it, and so contain it.
5.  Instead of moving with the fluid grace of that radiant Light, those Vessels (crafted by God, made beautiful and holy by God), those Vessels shattered.

Chapter Three: in which the Light, along with the Vessels, is scattered.
1.  Then the shards of those shattered Vessels were scattered into the Everywhere.  The Light, once contained, rose and leaped and was free again.
2.  It soared and danced and sang a psalm, a joyous hymn to God.  "Hallelujah!" cried the Light.
3.  The Light grew brighter, illuminating Heaven and Earth and All that was in between, brighter and faster and more luminous--
4.  More holy, infusing the darkness with Light--
5.  More radiant, wrapping around the Everything it touched--
6.  Over and under, everywhere and and all at once, holy, holy, holy!  In the space of a heartbeat (though hearts were long from being Created), in a moment of Endlessness (though there were Beginnings), the Light, with each turn and tumble and leap, left behind a Spark, nestled in the subtle curve and rough-edges in each of those myriad and broken pieces.
7. And so the Vessels, though they could not contain that holy and sacred Light, could instead be sheltered by It. Could instead offer shelter to It.
8. A multitude of Broken. An Infinity of Holy, bound together, scattered to the Everywhere of Heaven and Earth.

Chapter Four: In which Things are Revealed
1.  God watched that shimmering cascade, reminding Him (Her) (God) of celestial fireflies on a clear summer night (for while there were finally fireflies, Summer was still a long way off) (But God can remember forward, so it was Good).  God saw, but was sad.
2.  Creation, by its very nature, is an Act of separation.  It is a Breaking-- glorious and breathtaking in its wondrousness to be sure-- but a Breaking nonetheless.  Creation makes a space where once there was none, separates the Not into the Is. Creation has the power to break vessels and scatter Light.
3.  So if God's greatest Desire is to Create, God's greatest yearning is to Complete and bring to Wholeness (because God is, ever and always, ok with inconsistency).  God watched that glorious, electric, magnificent display, and decided to Fix it.
4.  Now God could not un-Create: what was brought into being, what now Was, could never be Not (not anymore).
5,  Just as God breathed in to make a Space for Creation, so now God exhaled, in a great and gentle rush of breath.  As with the Light, God's breath danced and leaped and rushed over the All, and those shards, those broken pieces made of Earth and Air and Fire and Water danced with God's breath, and they flowed and shifted through the Everything.
6.  But they were not yet repaired.

Chapter 5: In which a Path is Made Clear, and a Purpose made certain
1.  Into each piece of Broken that lay shimmering before Her (Him) (God), into that infinite field of possibility, God breathed a Name, a Soul, a Heart.
2.  And with that singular, miraculous breath, God declared (into the Was and the Is and the Yet to Be): "What I broke, in My desire to Create, let My creations, in My yearning for wholeness, be charged with its repair."
3.   And into that glorious, wondrous swirling cascade, God sang out: "Heal the World." And God knew (because God is smart like that) that it would be Good.
4.  And so it is, and so it shall ever be: each of us-- every Heart, every Soul, we each have a piece of the Broken that is ours, to find, to heal, to bring together with all the other infinite pieces of Broken. Some infinitely small, some excruciatingly large, waiting to be found, aching to be healed. Yearning, as God yearns, to be made Whole again.
5. And so let us say, "Amen."