Friday, August 31, 2018

And I am filled: a poem for Shabbat

She comes, my bride;
She comes in all her glory,
and I stop, breathless
drawn in as I always am
into her eternity.
to rest in her palace
forever, for a day,
for the sweetness
of a moment
that stretches into
endlessness and grace,
and I rest, whole.
She comes, my Shabbos bride,
and I am filled.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Avinu Malkeinu

Today is a day of reckoning
And I can hear my mother say
"Wait ‘til your father gets home!"
Today we stand in our Father's house
King of the castle,
Lord and master,
And I am small again,
a child, waiting, trembling,
shuffling and awed

Will You hear us?
Will You save us?
We rise in Your house
Forgiveness and mercy on our tongues
standing on holy ground,
hearts bared,
heads bowed.


There is no place that god is not.
There is no time that god has not been.
But today the doors are open,
the gates flung wide,
and sunlight catches silver,
and it is holy holy holy.

We rise,
because we have fallen.
We have sinned,
missed the mark.
I have. We all have.

Who are we,
that You have regard for us?
Children of dust,
sins of ash,
and still You call us to return.

Avinu Malkeinu, hear our prayer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

#BlogElul, Day 17: Awaken

I don't think I'm always awake for my own life. I'm way too distracted. At times, my focus is totally inwards, so that I miss much of what goes on around me. At others, I'm all external, which means I skip over the me in those experiences-- how I fit, what I feel, what I bring, and what I take away.

It is not a very present life. It is not a very intentional life. It's a life lived later, or next week, or not at all.

A handful or so of years ago, I was at OSRUI for Shabbat Shira-- a retreat that combines song and prayer and community and holiness in a profoundly rich and wondrous almost-week of days. On Friday morning, for shachrit, we participated in a movable feast-- a service that literally moved us from one place to the next, had us praying and eating and singing that bent the light, so to speak. In each place in the service-- physically, spiritually, mentally, we were asked to notice differently, challenged to engage differently, so that every one of our senses was awake and aware.

It was a sacred, holy thing. I think I caught fire-- or at least my head and my heart did. We walked together to the lake, and I could think-- be aware of, awake for-- how the cold hit my body, how the path lay dappled in gentle light, the sweet scent of a distant fire. I heard the crackle of stiff leaves fighting with the song of birds and tasted the first hint of winter.

While we all stood at the lake, water lapping at the shore and the sun filling a cloudless sky, we prayed, we were awakened to the miracle of a new day. I am infinitely grateful that I am awake and alive and part of the wonders that fill every moment and make every moment holy. 

This is what I wrote that day. This is what I took away:

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
(From my blog, titled Modah Ani, posted October 2012)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Not Evening, Not Day: for the beginning of Elul

It was not evening,
nor night,
not quite -
although the sickle moon,
dusted in orange,
kissed the passing clouds

It was not morning,
tho the sun
stained the sky
and shivered there,
on the horizon
that was sea and sky together,
and neither sea
nor sky

And so we prayed,
gathered at the water's edge,
in the not-evening-
Almost morning.
We opened our lips
on the border
of land that moved
with fluid grace,
next to the dark glass
of an obsidian sea
that rippled with
the laughter of the stars
that skated its smooth surface.

And all the Hosts of Heaven
waited in expectant
and shimmering
in that not-quite moment,
that sacred place
of not you
and not me;
That place where God lives -
at the very edge
of Heaven
and Earth,
That is the center
And calls to us
With bird song and wind
and the rippling
obsidian sea.

And there the shofar called
A single note,
Stretching out unto

There was evening.
There was morning.
One day.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Color of Sin

The color of sin is white;
this is sacrilege, I know.

Still, white is an everythingness,
a pervasive mess.

It is a blanket of snow,
or the eternity of death.

It stretches, like heat,
and it contracts and cracks

like ice.
Like sin.

Red hyssop will stain it
until it is not,

until the white -
and the sin - are not,
and I am clean.

Sin is tricky like that.