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Before the gates close, Part 2

Last night as I lay sleeping
I dreamt, marvelous error!
That I had a beehive
here inside my heart,
And the golden bees.
were making
Of my old failures,
Out of the white comb, sweet honey.

Yum. That is just great. The poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939) comes via my friend and sister seeker Selene…

And it’s the reason for Part 2 of my pre-Yom Kippur musings. The words are a balm, a sweet honey if you will, for the angst and sorrow that comes with teshuvah, the central focus of the holiday.

For those of you not in the know, the word teshuvah translates into “turning” or “repentance.” To my mind, it is the deepest spiritual practice — to consider where I’ve gone wrong, and to try and make it right. I’m not good at this. I whine and stamp my feet and figure out every which way that I’m not to blame, all the while knowing I’m totally in the wrong and would feel so much better if I just admitted it. Okay, this may be an exaggeration, but only a slight to medium sized one. Even when I’m completely gracious on the outside, I’m giving myself a zetz on the inside. I haven’t quite yet come to a sense of humor or proportion about my inadequacies.

This may be why I really dig the parts of the YK liturgy when we pound our chest and admit that we have abused, betrayed, neglected, or gone astray. And/or it might be the case that it is good every so often to call attention to our less than savory parts, whether individual or communal, lest we get too caught up with how fabulous we are most of the time. Hey, pay attention! You’ve still got work to do! The really bad guys (and I use the word “guys” in a gender neutral way) don’t do this often enough, but that shouldn’t stop us — you and me, the not-really-bad-guys.

(At least this is self-induced knocking-about. At least I wasn’t given 39 lashes by the elders, as was a seemingly nice young man who sang in front of the wrong crowd. You can read about it here in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz.)

If you missed my poem on atonement a ways back, you can see it here. It pertains.

An easy fast to all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/16/2010 9:47 am

    What a beautiful poem! Thank you for that.

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