Memory of Walking
Days have a rhythm. Some, languid, while others harried—somedays devoted to roaming—but not without a purpose. The purpose discovered in the wandering.
The third floor of this library, filled with non-fiction, exudes purposeful writing. Perhaps no one wants to read what these shelves hold. The quiet of the stacks floats around my soft upholstered chair.
I've spoken too quickly. Several students arrive and they settle down with their phones and books. One is texting. Perhaps tweeting her position in space. They whisper, but their words enter my space like an uninvited guest. Is this the time to eavesdrop on a conversation?
I picked up four books on the second floor —home of fiction books.
I select two books from the list I carry like a talisman — then two other books catch my eye. Titles do act as hooks—I am drawn to The Rabbi in the Attic by Eileen Pollack. Perhaps the title drew me in because today is Yom Kippur. I am not observant, but the holiness of the day doesn't escape into simply another day on the calendar.
My parents didn't observe the day, but when my grandfather was alive my father went to shul with him and recited the prayers he had learned as a boy. I wore good clothes on Yom Kippur, carried no money and walked everywhere —stopping at shul to visit my uncles and grandfather. Did my aunts attend that small place of worship? Later my aunts belonged to temples made of stone with polished floors and coat racks.
You entered my grandfather's shul , the ground floor of a house, and listened to the music of prayer. Some men chanted rapidly while others took more time. No one on the same line, but the prayers wove together into one voice. I stood at the back watching the men move back and forth as they read the prayers. Each body wrapped in a tallit—a sea of blue and white.
Then after the visit I walked somewhere else, usually with my friend Nina. Nina's father was a socialist and atheist, but her mother told Nina that she must respect the day even if her father went to work.
The students just left and a man with a crew cut and a Starbucks cup sits down at the vacated table. He doesn't have a computer nor a phone and writes with a pencil on yellow tablet paper.
I open one of the books and read the quotation on the opening page: "To find the soul it is necessary to lose it." --A.R. Luria
A.R. Luria, a Soviet psychologist wrote books about memory.
Rabbi Isaac Ben Solomon Luria The 16th century Kabbalist, introduced into the Kabbala the concept of tikkun (mending or correcting).
Connection: “ Tikkun Olam refers to the imperative to repair the world” —And that must be grounded in memory —
It is evening and Yom Kippur is over and I have roamed —and thought of the coming year. I am left with the question:
How in the coming year, may I be part of Tikkun Olam?