Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Was Afraid

(written for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Rememberance Day)

Blessed One-ness,

I want to say a prayer for the Shoah.
It is impossible.
I am afraid---

It floats in front of me
So big, and sometimes I can't see around it,
So small, sometimes I pretend it isn't there.
I tried to carry it away,
to take care of it
to put it to bed
to soothe myself
But I couldn't get my arms around it.
It grew and grew,
And I was afraid it would crush me.

It has different shapes
So many, and sometimes I can't keep track,
Sometimes it's flat and obvious.
I tried to walk all around it 
to see every perspective
to know its entirety
to calm myself
But I couldn't find every angle.
It expanded and contracted,
And I was afraid it would overwhelm me.

It makes a lot of noise
So loud, and sometimes I can hear laughter,
So quiet, sometimes I can forget I'm listening.
I tried to hear it all
to remember the tunes
to record the cries
to serenade myself.
But I missed most of what it was.
There was just too much,
And I was afraid that I would disappoint.

Blessed One-ness, 

I can't imagine anything.
I can't pray for anything.
It is impossible.
I am afraid.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Hillel Sandwich

You may wish to dispute this,
But I think
That without disputation, there is no Judaism.
Without both the bitter and the sweet,
Without both the strict and the kind,
Without both obligation and flexibility,
We simpley cannot exist.

So tonight
We eat the Hillel Sandwich,
That argumentative amuse bouche,
Made of 
Sweet juicy horseradish
Brick-bitter charoset
Mitigating matza.

That's us,
Holding a grudge and releasing it, too.
Remembering that we were once slaves
And that then we were free,
Refusing to enslave others
Fighting those who would do so.

We eat and
We bask in God's presence,
We eat and
We ask questions,
WE eat and
We study Torah,
We eat
And we tell our bitter and sweet stories.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Each Loss Breaks a Pattern: A Shiva Prayer

Baruch Atah Adonai
Ruach Ha Olam
Blessed One-ness, Breath of the Universe
Breathing us in 
Breathing us out.

Each loss breaks a pattern.
We remember and we pray.

We remember our loved one, _____________(name)
Beloved _______________(relationship)

Each loss breaks a pattern,

And we remember them.

We remember them
Because they gave us to ourselves,

We remember them
Because we loved each other,

And we remember
Because, well,
That is our job.

Every loss breaks a pattern,
And we pray.

We pray and place ourselves in front of the fear,
We place ourselves in front of the anger,
We place ourselves in front of the grief,

We pray and delight in our memories
We pray and listen for music that reminds us there will be joy again.
We pray for the long repair that happens after the patterns break.

And we give thanks for the ancient traditions, 
Telling the story even when we can’t. 
Hallelu Yah, breathing in,
Remembering us when we cannot.

Hallelu Yah, breathing out,
Praying with us when we feel alone.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Rock at The Entrance to Heaven

Sleeping at this place
Or at least trying.
A stone for my pillow
Or at least it feels that way,
There is no comfort here.
I obsess and worry,
I have made such a mess.
I see steps that could take me away.
There could be happiness,
There could be One-ness,
But not yet,
Not at this gate to the entrance to heaven.

I want so much.
I want to be of help,
I want to do good,
I want to experience everything,
I want to be wanted.
I watch so many others ride up that escalator,
the one that leads to...
Well, I don't know what it leads to.
I stare through the bars of the unlocked gate,
But I don't go in.

What if all it leads to is oblivion?
What if there is no traveling up and down that ladder, those steps?
Only pain, then nothing?
No one will remember a thing.
I'm an idiot,
A fraud!
Over confident and messy,
Brash and hurtful,
Selfish and false,
No one needs me.
Soon it will not matter.

Amidst all this self-pity
I have one thing to hold onto.
It's that stone pillow
For my hard hard head.
It tried to make me comfortable,
In its own rocky way.
I asked for a place to sleep and it said,
Here I am.

In the morning I will be exhausted.
I probably will have slept but I won't remember having done so.
I will move on, because that's what I do.
I will leave behind the stone pillow
In this place
As my assertion
That I lay down at the gate to the entrance to heaven,
That I saw what there was to see,
And that maybe I will return,
And maybe not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Birkat HaMazon - Grace After A Meal

רַבּוֹתַי נְבָרֵךְ

All who sit around these tables,
Friends and strangers,
In peaceful conversation
And pleasant disagreement,
We take this moment to acknowledge
Whenever we eat together
That we are blessed
And, in our turn,
We bless.

בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּבָרוּך שְׁמוֹ

Blessed be the Creator and the created,
Blessed be the sustainers and the sustained.
Blessed be the eaters and the eaten,
Blessed be the feeders and the fed.
Blessed be the cooks and the meal,
Blessed be the drinkers and the water.
Blessed be the farmers and the produce,
Blessed be the baker and the bread.
Blessed be them all.

Blessed be the doers and the done upon,
Blessed be the freers and the freed.
Blessed be the leaders and the led,
Blessed be the tellers and the told.
Blessed be the prayers and the prayed for,
Blessed be the servers and the served.
Blessed be the teachers and the taught,
Blessed be the mediators and the mediated.
Blessed be them alll.

 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי הַזָּן אֶת הַכּל

נוֹדֶה לְּךָ יי אֱלהֵינוּ  

Blessing us, One-ness,
Wtih the biggest and the smallest of blessings:
We do not lack.
Blessing us, One-ness,
With a history, ancient and current,
That is never boring.
We give thanks

וְעַל הַכּל יי אֱלהֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ מוֹדִים לָךְ וּמְבָרְכִים אוֹתָךְ  

Blessing us, One-ness,
With boundless Mercy
For all people,
All made in your image.
We pray for even a fraction of that compassion and empathy
That we may feel the joy and the suffering of all who surround us
And so that they may also feel ours.

רַחֶם נָא יי אֱלהֵינוּ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ  

Blessed One-ness
Making peace
Sustaining wholeness
For each other
And all the world