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Waking into this day,
I am met
By a different,
An eager morning light.
This new light
These past days
Has been gloriously
A touch of possibility.
A touch that whispers
Yet stepping outside
Just a bit after dawn
The dog park?
The blue skies
Fill up again
With the menace
Of wintery clouds.
And now I sit
Looking out the window
The wild wind
For the day.
I have been waking into despair.
Unusually fraught with undefined tears,
Whispering hopelessness into my vulnerable yet-awake ears.
I let the tears come.
I let them go.
I find my way out of bed.
Nik finds her panda-dog-toy,
Tussling and carrying-on ensues.
I find my way to my morning 12 Step meeting.
It always helps.
I find my way back to a place of tentative balance.
There I precariously sit, cautiously looking toward
The sun peering through the dancing clouds.
My grandmother Sonia is from Odessa.
Her family lived next to the Black Sea.
When she would talk of Odessa, her eyes took on a faraway softness.
The parks, the many universities,
The blacker-than- black waves of the Black Sea.
The opera they couldn’t afford but could stand in the balcony, for a pittance.
Waiting all night for a chance to hear Tosca.
Sitting in the courtroom all day, listening to the cases being presented.
She left Odessa “on a whim” at sixteen.
Not a good place to be a young Jewish woman.
She never returned.
She never saw Odessa again.
She never saw her mother again.
She never heard her languages,
Russian and Yiddish,
Fully surrounding her,
Fully holding her,
She held her mourning close to her body,
Wrapped around her, like a dignified cloak.
Being a Jew
How could I not
Be cellularly hyper-sensitive
To cultural destruction?
I wrap my mourning around myself,
Close to my body,
Like my gram.
I snuggle into
I hear the cooing before I remember them.
In the daytime?
On the porch?
And I look outside.
On the ledge
Behind the statue of the angel
Sitting on her nest
As she or her predecessor did
For the past three spring-summers,
There sits Mommy Mourning Dove.
She knows something I do not.
She trusts in ways I am not able.
I flow between despair, then returning to a tiny balance.
The mourning dove opens my heart.
We are safe.
I glance at the news.
The attacks beginning…
I slide back into tears.
For all the pain,
For all the suffering,
For all the loss.
For the suffering,
The suffering up ahead?
May we witness what is
As best we can,
May our compassion
Jewish liturgy rocks.
Surely that is not the technical nor the studied term, Aruni.
Jewish prayer-put-to-music can soothe me, deeply,
From inside, out.
Without knowing the words.
No meaning is needed,
Here is a blessing of peace, sung by Rabbi Angela Buchdahl from Central Synagogue in NYC.
Would you like to try an experiment? Listen to it once without translation. Give yourself that 2:45 minute immersion.
And now consider:
- What are you feeling?
- What are you noticing?
- Where in your body do you feel it?
- What do you receive from this song?
Now read the translation, as follows:
Adonai our God,
and raise us up,
Please spread over us
the shelter of Your peace.
And here is basic information about the prayer:
It goes back to ancient time when sleep was poorly understood.
The sages believed that sleep was 1/60th of death.
Moreover, a sleeping person is vulnerable to attack –
even if we don’t die then, bad things can happen.
Thus the custom of bedtime prayers was developed.
Perhaps extend your experiment by listening to the song again, now knowing its general meaning.
- Are you touched, in a different way?
- How? Where?
- How might you utilize this prayer?
- Play it for yourself at night?
- Play it when you awaken at 3:10 a.m., to the list of unknowns surrounding you?
For peace, for comfort, and for solace, I go outside. Living in a place so throbbing with obvious beauty and grace is a major blessing in my life. Yet no matter where we live, the earth is there—she was there first and, God willing, she will be first, forever.
Here is a wonderous Mary Oliver poem, to remind us of that peace, When I am Among the Trees.
Give us the courage and the willingness
To create the circumstances in which
Peace, solace, and grace might emerge.
Please spread over us
Of Your Peace.
May all beings