Friday, September 22, 2017

2. Standing Meditatiom

Gevurot
God’s strength: giver of life to everything


even the people who make you uncomfortable
even the wild turkeys that gather on lawns
even the insects that sting
even those people who get under your skin
they all are God’s creatures
even the animals and fish that are extinct
even the sponge and the coral
and the octopus, anteater, and two toed sloth
—all God’s creatures

Thursday, September 21, 2017

1. A Standing Meditation



Avot v’imahot
or the connection with our ancestors

years before my grandfather painted apartments in the bronx he served in the russian army a job he left to travel first to ellis island where his name became mangled and he lost the last few letters of his last name and ended up in a tenement building on the lower east side along with other immigrants and there he met his wife who had long red hair

I don’t know how or when they migrated to the bronx with their family of three sons and one daughter or how he became a house painter

his wife, cecila, loved purple and cooked potato pancakes and all my older cousins believed that she made wine in the bathtub but that was never proved and i didn’t care because all i wanted to do was watch her brush her long red hair and twist it into a figure eight held together with a few barrettes and a deft touch

we visited their apartment every other sunday even though my mother thought it too often and i became bored

in the afternoon my grandfather stood facing the direction of jerusalem and davened

my mother's mother, yette, was married to a man who drove a meat truck and was active in the teamsters and because of his union background i learned to never cross a picket line and i never have

he died when I was three and my grandmother came to live with us in a three room rent controlled apartment in the bronx where i never thought we didn't have enough space and my grandmother and i shared the bedroom while my parents slept on a pullout bed in the living room

yette had a beautiful soul and for years attended night school english classes where she learned how to speak "american" and wrote short sentences on scraps of paper which she kept in her pocketbook--i,too,keep scraps of paper with sentences or quotes in my tote bag

she taught me how to play pisha pasha, a card game, and told me to never pass by someone who is homeless and asking for money


I don't know the people who came before my grandparents although i did know that they came from poland and russia and a few from germany

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#BlogElul Day 29: Return

Return

I turn again
and look at what needs
cleaning, shoring up
The past is filled
with potholes and cracks
Streaks mar the mirror
and clarity is distorted
In time I’ll return and untangle
places still knotted and tender

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#BlogElul Day 28: Give

Give
me
some
time to
think about this
year and next
What needs to be done
to repair and forgive—
to renew and refurbish
to hold and to let go
Let me empty my pockets
of any crumbs

Monday, September 18, 2017

#BlogElul Day 27: Bless

If Not Today When

Lord, bless us all—
those who fall and stand up again,
those who fall and can’t get up
those who try to live right
and those who don’t try
Lord, we all need your blessing
even those who don’t know your name
and never talk to you
Lord, the road is long
Bless each of us

Sunday, September 17, 2017

# BlogElul Day 26: Create


Following

When I try to replicate the color of grass
under an overcast sky I mix my paints
until I think the hue's been captured.
God, the ultimate painter choose the palette

Later I sketch you reading
These lines are mine
They wander across your face,
down the arm that holds a book
I find a rhythm and my pencil moves
with care as I follow your shape



Saturday, September 16, 2017

#BlogElul Day 25: Change


First You Look


I look in the mirror and note more gray hairs,
loose skin under my chin and a web of lines
Every year I look backwards, lose myself
in memories and make a list of projects
for the coming year: go through and organize
2,658 photos, cook one new recipe a month,
put together a book of poetry, write letters to
old friends, finally paint the Tree of Life
My goals gather momentum
as I list one thing after another
A dizzying pace of to do, want to do items
This type of list is far easier than seeing
what needs to change
because facing up to change is hard
Change demands attention—-
It means pointing a mirror into
hidden crevices and letting light in


Friday, September 15, 2017

#BlogElul Day 24: Hope


Prayer, the Handmaiden of Hope

You can live without chocolate frappes,
pizza with five toppings, a Starbucks latte,
front row seats at the game of your choice,
cable television, even your smart phone—
but you can’t live without hope
Hope speaks to possibilities

Thursday, September 14, 2017

#BlogElul Day 23: Begin


    God sorts the stories we don’t tell.
           —Rachel Barenblatt


Let us begin to unspool 
our untold stories
and let them roll out  
over the grass, gravel, and asphalt
until they arrive at a small stream
where children toss sticks and watch
the current take them downstream
Let us make boats out of tree bark
to hold our stories
and set them loose


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#BlogElul Day 22: End

                       An End is Also a Beginning

i remember when I first learned to phone friends and we didn’t know how to end conversations so we kept saying goodbye until someone finally said “my mother called me” and that helped stop the endless goodbyes yet growing older didn’t make acknowledging an end any easier  because an end carries feelings that need expression and yet we don’t always know the correct words even when we know the feelings

death is an end, a finality that nudges reflection and remembering the trajectory of a friendship, of  the fulcrum of family and the wish for more time so conversations might be replayed, edited, or  amended and more time to redo or create new memories 

recognizing an end instead of looking to see if there is another page is a hard earned skill


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Month of Elul

"The Hebrew letters of the word  ( Elul) אלִול can be read as an acronym for the phrase Ani l'dodi v'dodi li, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." Song of Songs"
  The Velveteen Rabbi

#BlogElul Day 21: Love

     

              Love Defined

Is love doled out in droplets
or expansive and overflowing—
without boundaries, without demands
Is love unconditional—no strings,
no if and then preconditions 
Ask yourself if this was always so



Monday, September 11, 2017

#BlogElul Day 20: Fill

 Lord, Fill Me With Your Spirit

I got a silk bow tie
and bangles
that jingle 
Velvet pants
that fit like a lover
A satin shirt
and a cummerbund 
made of shimmer 
sequins like my
momma bought
to sew on sweaters
I got a hat with feathers
and dancing shoes
I’m ready Lord
to dance







Sunday, September 10, 2017

#BlogElul Day 19: Speak

A Retrospective 

Speak up
Speak out
Speak as if  life
depended upon your words
Speak up for those times
you were silent

Let me speak the words
I never said
Let me speak the words
I swallowed 





Saturday, September 09, 2017

#BlogElul Day 18: Ask

                                                   Ask 


What to ask ? Only those things that exist as possibilities, or miracles that seem impossible—perhaps ask to partner in the answers.

Friday, September 08, 2017

#BlogElul Day 17:Awaken

     To Awaken 
Apprise yourself of those places
that are tarnished and seen
through half-closed eyes
Inform yourself of places that
need a voice and speak 



Thursday, September 07, 2017

#BlogElul Day 16:Pray

          Prayer

Pray for those who eat the leftovers 
Pray for the woman wrapped in a blanket
with a park bench as a bed
Pray for the child with the hollow chest
and eyes that bulge
Pray for those who live with no walls
Pray for those who refuse to see,
for those who can’t hear the footfalls,
for those who walk past the  man
who sits on the sidewalk with a cup 
and a  cardboard sign--
Homeless and Hungry
Pray for forgiveness 
for all the times we meant to give
Pray for the times we didn’t speak,
didn’t make eye contact
And I pray for forgiveness for thinking
that it is the other who too often forgets 





Wednesday, September 06, 2017

#BlogElul Day 15: Intend


    I Intend to 

Someday I’ll sit down and recall 
the number of things I thought 
I’d do, but life interrupted
My unwritten novel never moved 
beyond a thin skeleton plot
Maybe there's comfort in staying 
within the boundaries 
Someday I’ll create a list
of places I meant to see,
hikes missed, apologies not made
Perhaps this year I’ll write
unsent letters to those
who can no longer hear my words 
Perhaps this year I'll practice
saying words out loud 



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

#BlogElul Day 14:Learn

The grass learns from the rain 
and grows toward the clouds—
a drought turns the grass into brittle straw
A metaphor for love

Monday, September 04, 2017

#BlogElul Day 13: Remember

       Searching for a Revision

I think I remember my surprise birthday party
with a centerpiece and napkins to match,
a home baked cake and a candle for each year.
But when I last tried to recall the table I saw frosted
cupcakes and a wrapped present and one candle.
That’s how memories change with time.
Was I happy? Did I thank you for this party?
Just the two of us. Your brother was at basketball
practice and ate his cake long after the
balloons came down and the centerpiece folded.
I remember a long silence while we ate our cake 
on matching plates. What happened then?
Did we laugh? Sometimes I think we went somewhere
after the cake? Other times I think we moved
separately and let the silence blanket the rooms.
That silence followed us— a marauder tamping
down a chance at a different story.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

#BlogElul Day 12: Count

Peace Be With You
and with you
and with you

Let us count our blessings
this day
  


Saturday, September 02, 2017

#BlogElul Day 11: Trust

                                 Finding the Universe in a Story
     

         A way of coming face to face with what you think or thought often happens when reading a book. When I trust an author, a character within a story, the narrative flow— I may find that the words I read could be my words. While the specific situation differs, different plot, characters that bear no resemblance, the author hones in and explores, delineates some human flaw that resonates with most people. A good author writes so that the reader finds that the story belongs to everyone. Perhaps not each aspect, but enough so that the story is universal.
        While reading  Nicole Krauss’s book Great Houses I came across a paragraph that spoke to me about relationships. The paragraph is too long to quote—but three lines will do.

           “The moment after you walked out of the room I realized that I’d lost my chance. I understood that you had offered me a reprieve, and I squandered it. And I                                       knew it would not come again.”

Friday, September 01, 2017

#BlogElul Day 10: Forgive

Forgive Me

Some remembering is hard, tough
calluses form over time—
Forgiving whittles down 
the edges, softens those places
where hairline cracks turn
into gaps of silence




Thursday, August 31, 2017

#BlogElul Day 9: See

                        Choosing to See

    the first time i looked up at a new mexico sky i marveled at the immensity of blue, at night i stood in awe beneath so many stars and in daytime i walked amid canyons that dwarfed me and watched the sun bathe the orange and red hoodoos until they turned into fire-bright colors
    we walked down bright angel trail deep into the grand canyon and stopped and watched a hummingbird flutter mid-air as if hanging from an invisible gossamer thread
    i spread my fingers, placed my hand against the rocks—up against the layers of sandstone, mudstone, and limestone--my handspan covers millions of years
    if I stop and look at a pebble, a leaf, the way the bark on a tree creates a pattern, water moving in a river, the ocean foam, dewdrops on a blade of grass…i see creation spread out

    

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#BlogElul Day 8: Hear

Listening hard
means hearing
the sense
behind the words 
To hear someone
you need to put away
the reply before
you hear their words
To truly hear what is said
quiet down, breath
and don’t cut in