Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BlogElul - Hope

I find, much to my surprise, that I am, once again, stumped by hope. That is, I'm having a hard time daring to do it. Life is so very fragile, and the world can be so dark. One false move - or, perhaps, any move at all - will upset that delicate balance, which feels too much like the whole of existence dancing on the head of a pin. Hope requires that I move somewhere, anywhere, even a hair's breadth from the spot I am in, but I see that empty, endless expanse laid out all around, and I am afraid I will fall into forever.

That's hope for you: dangerous, and wrapped up into way too many metaphors to do anybody any good. Least of all, me. Here's a secret though, my secret: I so want to hope - fearlessly, courageously, defiantly, in the face of every fear or foe.

But perhaps. Maybe. Just maybe, I got it wrong. That vision, I think, is for the fantasy novel hero, the shield maiden, donning her armor and wielding her sword, stalwart and sure. That's not hope. Not really. That's a fantasy, nothing more. Neither is hope is not a wish, or empty words of hearts filled with thoughts and prayers. Lovely sentiments, to be sure - but these are not hope.

Hope is feeling the dread - that icy lick of fear you get just microseconds after the news of (choose all that apply): the death of a loved one; a difficult (scary) diagnosis; some disaster that is big and huge and all-encompassing. And in spite of all that ice and dread and fear - you move anyway. You hold a hand, comfort an anguished heart, breathe, stand with, witness, give strength, cook a meal, drive a carpool, smile, sing, laugh, talk, listen. And even (I hate to admit this) pray. Because sometimes, that's all that's left, the only thread you have to hold onto: prayer - a conversation with God, even one filled with every swear word you can think of, even one with no words at all.

Hope is an action.

As I said, I've not been practicing much hope these days. Instead, I've been staying a little bit stuck in the icy dread. I don't like it much (although I am quite comfortable staying so stuck; I've had way too much practise here), this precarious perch upon which I've climbed. Frankly, my balance isn't too good these days, and my arms are getting really tired. I need to let go.

An old story keeps running through my head: 
Rabbi, what if I don't feel like praying?
Pray until you do...

Perhaps it is the same with hope. What if I am afraid to hope? What if I'm too stuck? What if I don't feel like I can hope?

Hope until I do.

Until then, I will dance as gracefully as I know how, high up on this pin, and try - with all my might - to fall, to let go - to hope that one day, I will.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Thousand Shades of Black

There was no thought of
symmetry or rhythm
at the edge of the sea,
as it rolled and pitched
there on the edge of night.
No thought at all,
just a thousand shades
of black, like the negative of
Jacob's peacock coat
flung wide.

Was this the sound of heaven,
this cacophony of waves,
and a counterpoint of
cricket and wind?
A host of angels, each one
of that vast multitude beginning
a psalm of morning
at a time of their own choosing -
a great babble of benediction and praise,
one by one by one,
each different in their turn,
each the same.

As above,
so below.

And so we walked
to the edge of the sea,
to the edge of night,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Place of Agonizing Beauty

I spied Hannah once,
from the corner of my eye,
prostrated before Your altar;
in her deepest heart
a place of
agonizing beauty;
her call so silent
only a god
could hear.
My heart
thuds too loudly in
my ears; there is
no quiet place,
no stillness.
Is that where
You hide?
If I call "Ayekah?"
Would you answer?

God, but I'm tired!
I am done
I no longer care.

I am here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

At the urging of a harp: a poem for Elul (#blogelul)

I stand here,
ready to begin
to follow this road
of dust, that stretches
before me, but I cannot
see where it bends
and splits and
turns in on itself.
I have walked this
road before,
seven times seven,
and then seven more:
brought here
returned here
again and again
and yet the road is still

David's harp urges me
and the horns of Abraham's
dilemma push me,
and Jacob's ladder is crowded
with angels. They move aside,
not without some attitude,
so I may stumble up those
narrow rungs; still -
elevated though I am,
there is only dust
and a blaze of Glory
in the far distance.

I am meant to follow,
with open hands
and open heart,
to feel the quickening
of my blood
that moves in equal time
with my shame
and my joy, my fear and
love, my grief and my ecstasy,
So that i may claim them
all, as they have
claimed me;
so that i may dance
at the gates
and be whole.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Through Dust, and Time

It was there –
Under the mountain,
bits of parchment
and a river of
ink, and feathers and
crowns – a liquid fire
that burned.
We put stones in our pockets,
bones of mountain and earth,
tasting of thunder;
we walked through dust
and time
to here:
to now.

You captured the blue
of sky and
and wove them with the sun.
Ten thousand threads
and ten thousand more,
together with bits of cloth;
It unfolded in
supple billows,
lifted by an updraft,
catching in the branches of a tree,
Limned in light.

We left it where it lay,
A cloth of wondrous beauty,
A tree of life.
Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh
We sang,
A song of praise
and binding
and joy.