The Light in the Darkness
Yes, I do post a lot of poetry as both resource and refuge for resilience. As my friend Roger Housden, author of the Ten Poems to Change Your Life series (…to Set You Free, …to Open Your Heart, …for Difficult Times, etc.) says:
Great poetry speaks truth in a universal language that crosses cultural boundaries and speaks directly to the human heart with a precision and force that other forms of writing can rarely aspire to. Poetry captures the essence of an experience or insight and at its best delivers it in the form of a precise and essential truth that human beings anywhere can recognize.
Two poems today, so radically different from each other, yet both timely, relevant, and true. And the juxtaposition of them is also timely, relevant, and true.
Finding Home by my friend Phyllis, read last weekend at our Gourmet Poets Society. (We have met, sharing poetry for inspiration and consolation, for 20+ years now.) Touching the depth of everyone’s longing for “home” as we re-emerge from the pandemic.
Blessings During a Surge of Violence by rabbi Irwin Keller, touching the depth of heartache over the most recent escalation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both speak to the deepest longings of the human heart to find peace in our own hearts and “home” in the hearts of others.
I love how the roots of flower and vegetable starts tuck into the fresh soil and make a home for themselves.
I love how delicious food graces your mouth and then your belly and your whole body seems to wrap around it and take it in.
I love how when you meet a kindred spirit your heart leaps in recognition of yet another place to call home.
I love how when you sit in meditation calling all your worldly energy back to yourself that from deep down your breath finds you again.
Or how a simple poem, laughter, or suddenly a favorite song can re-member the scattered and fragile places that you didn’t know were homeless until you did, and you find yourself remarkably, home again.
And you realize not for the first time, that things sometimes feel elusive but that the fruit, the friend, the food, the song, the breath gathers you up in transport and brings you where you long to be.
Blessings During a Surge of Violence
As Ramadan ends, as Shabbat begins, in this long week of grief and despair, I offer these blessings on my own behalf.
Blessed be my sadness, born of pain and grief. May it keep my heart open to all suffering.
Blessed be my impatience. May I lift my voice to demand an end to this – now, not waiting until more lives are lost.
Blessed be my patience. May it make clear things that are not yet clear. May it support me in the slow study of the fears and angers, hopes and traumas that birthed this moment.
Blessed be my intelligent discernment. May I take a hard look and careful note of who benefits from this conflict.
Blessed be my memory. May I perceive what is the same about this conflict and the ones before it. And may I notice what is new.
Blessed be my confusion. May it gift me with beginner’s mind; may it open me to new visions and new possibilities that will only come into existence in this moment.
Blessed be my capacity to love. May it pour itself forth, unchecked, toward Israelis and Palestinians, all of whom are my kin, and none of whom deserve this.
Blessed be my refusal. My refusal to cast Arabs and Jews as enemies.
Blessed be the peacemakers – Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims and Christians, joining hands for peace, doing the hard work, insisting on it, even though their actions rarely make the news feed.
Blessed be my hope, which continues to live. May it be not fantasy but demand. A demand upon heaven and a demand upon earth. May hope be rewarded, speedily, in our time. Rewarded with peace. Rewarded with breath. Rewarded with ordinary, unremarkable coexistence. Rewarded with yet more hope.
Barukh Tzelem haElohim
Blessed be Your likeness, God, revealed in every face.
Blessed be this sabbath and all sabbaths. Blessed be the stepping back. The waiting. The resting. May we have opportunities to unclench, to hit brakes, to de-escalate, to put down weapons, to gather around tables, to light candles, to bless our children, to drink wine and break bread. May Shabbat remind us that there is no course of action that is inevitable, no momentum that can’t be slowed, no decision that can’t be reconsidered in the glow of the candles. May Shabbat come as a ceasing and a healing. May it be Shabbat Shalom – a Sabbath of Peace.
– Rabbi Irwin Keller