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Psalm 34

PSALM 34[1]: Longing for Living Connections[2] (HUMILITY)

When love’s temperament is challenged

Confronting ‘my-daddy’s-a-king,’

good sense banished, gone.

א Adonai, I shall try to find a way to bless You

even now bring praise to my lips

ב Because Your song can still lift

my nephesh-soul to sing

by harnessing a humility that listens happily

ג Grow for LOVE’s sake grow it in me with you

give it and together live up to its calling

ד Dare I ask You to answer, to spare me

to save me from all my self-imposed estrangement

ה Haven’t we beheld what flows from majestic mountains of light

don’t turn our faces red with hate nor ashen white

…and (silence)

ז Zip it ‘cause this calls for humble-ones to hear and heed

And from all our woes weave a solace

ח Holy angels of grace circling ‘round saving us

With the courage to be curious again

ט To taste and take refuge again in good-guy senses

Taste and smell, sight and sound, touch and joy

י You are amazing awe-sum-greater-than-the-sum of

your parts lacking nothing whole

כ Kiss the ravenous hunger goodbye ‘cause now we

crave only search and service, not its fulfillement.

ל Listen boys how the wonder-and-fear we feel

how shock-and-awe can teach us

מ Mi ha’Ish? What makes a man?

A zest for living?

Loving each moment?

Seeing the best in everyone?

נ Now, know this. A grown man is at least as concerned

with his own lingual perversion as foreign national invasion.

Watch your words, guard you tongue

from making matters worse.

Let your lips’ be the borders[3] you defend with troops!

ס Sir, with true discipline, a mussar-man

turns destructive habits of self-serving fear-speech into a

search for hidden lines of connection, missing links, the vav.

Peace is far more pleasing, more comforting than conquest.

ע Aye, turn your eyes towards those with clarity of vision and purpose,

attune ears to those who cry for justice.

פ Please, face up to the ways your words have co-made this mayhem

(the evil that enables eleven siblings to be shot dead on a sabbath).

Facing our faults is the path of righteous manhood,

paving the way for chesed, living loving-kindness and goodness daily,

he’chofetz chaim, oheiv yamin, lirot tov.

צ Tzaaku! Cry. Let tears flow and shouts echo in the empty chambers of God’s sanctuary.

Will you hear them and from the kilns of despair shield them?

ק Quickly cousin. Come close, have courage, holiness

sits alongside the broken-hearted, feeling vulnerable, helpless.

First atone, then come bear their burden with them.

ר Reeling from one man’s reckless ways and another’s words.

If not a rewind, surely a reward for the righteous? Yet rightness

ש Splinters our essential oneness. Shatter no more these connections

The bones that bind together fallen, shooter, griever and shit-speaker,

ת Tombs and shame await those who terrorize

Taking innocent lives and despising just causes

פ Precious nephesh-soul, put away your fear and shame. Play your part.

Faces of Providence are revealed in each act of service.

[1] This psalm found me while attending services at the New London Synagogue, the shabbat following the murder of 11 members of The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

[2] Like psalm 145, this is an acrostic poem with one letter lacking a complete verse (and one added). The vav, “connecting hook,” is missing.

[3] The Hebrew words, sefatecha, means both ‘your lips’ and ‘your shoreline’, or ‘border’

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