The Silent Journey

When God called Abraham to
GO!
Abraham was silent.
He was also silent when God told him
to take his son up a mountain
and sacrifice him there.

I think I get it now.

We question Abraham’s silence
during these trials
because so often he is chatty with God.
He has so much to say.
He is unafraid to challenge.

But these journey’s render him mute
and I as well.

I have no words on the eve of my own Exodus.
I have spent them all on goodbyes.
I used them up trying to explain the inexplicable.
“This is crazy!” they probably said to Abe as well.
I wonder how long he tried to explain it before he gave up.

And frankly, I’m too tired to think of words,
even words of prayer,
even wails of lamentation.
All of that came before.
Now, I am just tired.
Now, my heart is heavy.

I’ll bet Abraham was tired too.
I’ll bet his leaving was also abrupt and hurried.
God is more fearsome than even the U.S. government
after all.

But anyway.

I understand his silence.
It mirrors my own.
I don’t want to speak.
Not even to God.
Not now.

Now I just want to begin.
To move my tired feet forward
step by step
toward whatever I am being sent to.
A place neither familiar nor foreign.
Home and Not-Home.
Ancient and New.

It is Sukkot and I am wandering
between places
between homes
neither here nor there.
Everything is in boxes.
Everything is temporary.

Were they silent too,
as they left home to go home?

And did they know what I am learning:
That home is not a place you leave
or journey toward
or arrive at;
Home is what you carry in your heart.
The people
The animals
The memories
The lessons

Empty mouth. Full Heart.

And away we go.

EKG’15

5 Elul: Accept

Accept
that this year probably won’t go as expected;
that your family won’t suddenly be less disfunctional;
that true change –
t’shuva
requires hard work and not just best intentions.

Accept
that you cannot go back;
that you don’t get a re-do;
that you can only move forward and
hope
that you might do better next time a similar set of circumstances
present themselves.

Accept
that not everyone who hurt you will appologize;
that not everyone you’ve hurt has told you that you hurt them;
that some of them will appologize and then hurt you again
and that you will likely do the same.

Accept your humanity
and theirs.

Accept
that this year may be your last;
that you need to treat it as if it were;
with humility and courage and realistic expectations.
Accept
that this year may not be your last;
that you won’t get it right either way;
that you will make some old mistakes and some new ones.

Accept who you are.
Then keep bettering yourself.
And then
accept
that you will still be you
and still need more bettering
tomorrow.

1 Elul

Breathe in.
A new beginning is on the horrizon,
fast approaching,
ready or not.

Breathe out.
It is okay to be anxious.
There is much that is unknown.
It is okay to question:
Will you make it through?

Breathe in.
Elul tells us it’s time to prepare;
brace yourself;
pace yourself;
steady and ready yourself;
A new beginning is coming.
Time is running out.

Breathe out.
This is not the first year,
the first change,
the first time
you’ve had to start over.
Make your lists;
you know how this goes.

Breathe.
You can be ready.
You can make it through.
You know the steps.
You know the tune.
You can do this.

Elul doesn’t mean to terrify us,
just to warn us:
This time is coming to a close.
A new time is heading our way.
Move toward it.
Embrace it.
What choice do you have?

Breathe.

We Pray Anyway

When I want to rail at God

prayer is the last place I want to be.

I know I’ll find my way back to God one way or another

but right now I don’t have words of my own

and the words of tradition feel empty

given that men died with those words on their lips this week.

But the Voice of Jewish tradition says I don’t have a choice;

it says there are shiva minyans to go to and Shabbat services to attend.

The Voice of Tradition says that prayer isn’t just about what I have to say or not say;

that prayer  isn’t just about me.

The Voice of Tradition says that life goes on;

that the community needs to gather;

that prayer is going to take place with or without me.

And I remember that even empty words can be a refuge;

that the rituals can shelter me through familiarity alone.

If I don’t believe in prayer this week, that’s okay,

but somebody else might need to pray

and they need the community around them to do it.

And if I’m a part of the community then I’d better be there.

The Voice of Jewish tradition doesn’t promise that prayer works;

it doesn’t promise that Jews won’t be slaughtered –

not even if they’re righteous,

not even if they’re praying.

The Voice of Jewish tradition doesn’t promise that prayer works;

What it says is:

Pray anyway.

Tachat Kanfei HaShechina

I have never not felt safe
wrapped in my tallis
in one of my many colored tallitot
Like being wrapped in the very wings of God
Tachat Kanfei haShechina

What better armor could I need?
I might have asked you
yesterday.
But today I know better
Know
that men can be murdered while at prayer
While leading others in prayer
While wrapped in white pure tallesim
White pure now stained red

The synagogue is no place for blood
is no place for murder
is no place for terror

The synagogue should be a safe place
A SANCTUARY
But men are killed in God’s house
Not the first time surely
not the last.

Men dying with prayers of peace on their lips?

How do I pray today?
Tomorrow?
How do I wrap myself in a tallit
and beckon others to follow?
How do I advocate for prayer in such a world?
And how can I not?

My Friend Grief

In 2011 I did a lot of writing about “My Friend Grief” who kept rearing Her ugly head and interrupting my regularly-scheduled-life.

I created a blog about it called “My Friend Grief” but when Grief went back underground, I stopped writing and the blog was neglected and then set aside for this one.

Fast forward 3 years…Grief has visited from time to time but I haven’t done much writing about it…

And then last week She popped back up again. Her sense of time passing, and my sense of time passing are so different.

So I’ve been writing again and I figured I’d import my old musings from 2011 as well. You can find them in the side-bar.

Here are the latest inspirations from the muse I’d rather not have:

I had almost forgotten
how exhausting Grief is;
How my body can be taken over
by a zombie who is slow and
dumb
Like every thought and movement
has to make its way through
a world that has suddenly
turned
to
molasses.

I had almost forgotten
that my body could be in one place
and my heart could be in another.
I had almost forgotten
that I could fake normalcy so convincingly;
That I could juggle
all the balls
with my eyes closed
(in molasses no less).

I had almost forgotten
how Grief brings on words that won’t be
silenced
and tears that won’t be
ignored.

Almost.

I had almost convinced myself
that grieving you would stay in the background
now,
but to no avail.
You’re still there:
tragically loving me,
tragically broken,
and demanding answer that are nothing less than
tragic
themselves.

Grief is an old friend I’d rather not welcome home,
but there you are,
and there She follows,
and I’m no less a slave to the both of you than I ever was.
Five years
and all I can attest to
is that I’m so familiar with
molasses
that I can find my way blind
without so much as stumbling;
without drowning;
without chocking on it when I silently scream.

So how’s that for progress?

– EKG’14
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Hi Hon!” he chirps
when I answer the phone.
As if last night wasn’t the first time we’d spoken in two years;
As if HIS brain
hadn’t broken MY heart
in a million different ways.
Turns out it was a butt-dial.
The cosmos laughing in my face.

– EKG’14

The Suddenness

it doesn’t matter if it’s happened to you before

you never get used to it,

the suddenness of loss

 

you fall asleep next to someone you love

and wake up next to a stranger;

you say “see you next week”

but next week never comes

 

they’re just suddenly gone

and with such finality

 

it is what differentiates sad from tragic

it is what differentiates losing someone and having them

torn from you

 

the suddenness of loss

 

I barely knew you but you mattered much to me

there is so much I should have said

I should have thanked you more

all the cliches hold true

 

and no official titles

or degree of closeness to God protects us from it

 

God catches us, surely but

not from the suddenness it seems

 

not from the breathlessness and the shock

not from the not-knowing what to say

 

I know that God is in the friends that call

in the communities that come together

in one person holding another up

 

but the suddenness is something we each face alone

that first moment of absence and awareness

 

the suddenness of loss