Essential Empathy, for A New Year.

ABC-abstract[For Rosh Hashanah, New Shul, 2015 / 5776]

At our darkest, do we wish for sleep?
Where the troubled are calm, the halls echo?
The tired are resting and only the walls can know
what we’re all hiding from?

And is death the buried treasure?
Or is this light, this life the truest measure of our capacity?

And if it’s accurate that more precision yields fluidity, and fluency, and currency,
then I offer this precise prayer as both question and answer,
and as a kneeling-down-surrender,
as a quiet declaration of how we might begin right here.

Could it be that we confuse our feelings about our darkness, our fear,
with its essence –
which is respect, which is listening,

maybe holiness, maybe reverence?

AofA_HealingCards60Could it be that my reverence gave birth to an entire universe of light and sound?

And could it be that clearing out our darkness isn’t our way around our fear –
but compassionate evolution might be?
Can we circumambulate our anguish and see everything that’s there;
can we surround it with more love and be crystal clear that we care for ourselves?
However large, however small, you draw the map of it, and tell the tall and layered story about how it began, this grief, topographically,
how it shakes you and leaves you morphologically altered every time –
until you choose to remain unscathed.
Because until we remember that we are
nerves and senses and streams that flow,
and so many times every day we are tempted to sink
into the memory of this soul…
but now we can make another map, another offering,
and come from a new depth of sensation and sensitivity.
Relate to what is powerfully difficult with a fresh and distinct
intensity of empathy for ourselves –
which will undoubtedly and so mercifully
be felt by someone else.
This is how we rewrite the map and travel fresh terrain.
We navigate ourselves with kindness, so that nobody nearby
can locate any blame or shame – because in our presence
the only flame that’s lit is the one that shines the warmest light of listening.
Which changes the lens through which we’re all looking.
He’s offering us a precise compass for this ever-evolving ride.
It looks like empathy, for ourselves first;
God’s love is that wise.
So can you make a net that’s wide enough to let it all in?
Can we each make a promise to keep on listening?
And might this listening be our way back into love, awe, and trust;
the most perfect healing balms for all of us?
Time to respond to ourselves, and to God, as a friend.
This is our chance to reanimate the ending
and re-tell the story, and find ourselves in a heap
of resplendently glorious light and forgive what we’ve done –
and do not what is “right”
but what is steeped in love.
That might be enough.
That might be enough.

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