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Psalm for Elul

PSALM 27 – For love’s sake the courage to live as if… / Bitachon

My deepest fear?

The energy illuminating everything

cannot be seen or named.

When all I see is reflection and refraction,

who am I to be afraid

of dark or light?

of seeing, being seen, or not?

Silence is the mother of all sounds,

syllables, names.

When a wisp of breath and unspoken incantation

guards the fortress of my life,

Who shall I fear?

Which ‘I’ is the one that worries?

Fear and worry come fast consuming my flesh from within,

thieving me of ease and joy.

If only they would stumble, topple like the walls of Jericho.

For now, they have set up camp, settling in,

starving head of sense and heart of wonder.

If you force upon me this unwanted war,

I will trust in… this, this mystery

of light and sight, hidden forces

made visible through masks of refraction.

My deepest desire?

One? If granted one last wish,

this would be my re-quest:

To sample sabbath rest

in the house of wonder

every living day,

to see with eyes of equanimity and ease

waking me to each new dawn

in a palace of delight.

Point me north to find shelter from my worst fears

under a blanket of stars-promising-progeny,

winking at me through the leafy roof of a sucah.

Let me hide in the hidden folds of this makeshift shelter,

tent turned tabernacle, sanctuary erected on

and protected by a mountain of smooth, solid sandstone.

There now.

See my head rise above engulfing echoes of oys and veys

Releasing, sacrificing wants no longer suited for service

Fragmented breaths pressing through parsed lips into a horn

transforming silent fears into jubilant song. Teruah.

I will sing. Zivhei teruah.

Atonement through attunement.

Shema qoli. Hear my voice

turning silence to song

Choneini. Fill me with an easy grace

in the face of my unfulfilled desires

Aneini. Gift me with a humble responsiveness

to your unmet needs.

Your deepest desire?

Voice whispers through my heart and says,

'Seek my face.'

I will seek your face, the hidden light,

reflected in every face, revealing light.

Do not let anger distract me from witnessing your majestic presence

tucked away in the creases of faces furrowed

by anger in the face of injustice

and a fear of being forgotten.

My father, my mother, yours, all beloved

parental protectors will die.

Time will orphan me if I live that long.

And yet, magnetism prevails, a law of nature

in-gathering, out-glowing

showing all the wisdom of your ways,

paths paved by and for service and song

Don’t let worry distort these nefesh-soul, body-based truths

with false testimonies, hyperboles, and half-truths

blowhards fermenting fears to safeguard their power.

Our declaration:

Lulei. What if? What if it were not so?

Doubt. Division. Danger. Death. As if!

I choose to live as if I have the courage

to act in the face of doubt

to see the hidden connections and blessing

to belong and be beholden to the living land, eretz chaim.

Together, let us draw new kinds of lines in the shifting sands.

I choose to trust you, to empower you, to re-see you,

to celebrate your courageous heart, amatz lev

to reshape this longing in your likeness.

* Note: During the Hebrew month of Elul, the 6th lunar month leading up to the Jewish New Year, it is customary to hear sound of a tru'ah from a shofar [ram's horn] each weekday morning, and to recite this psalm. As such this psalm offers a frame for us to hear the shofar and prepare for a new year, new life -- with four questions:

What is your deepest fear? Your deepest desire? Our collective need? Our shared aspiration and declaration?

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