Acceptance & Renewal

“When night comes, and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in G-d’s hands, and offer it up to Him. In this way we will be able to rest in Him, actually to rest and to begin the new day like a new life.” – Edith Stein

Every morning,

my mind is like a blank canvas;

until, upon scratching the surface,

I can begin to see layers of sadness

underneath the pristine dermis.

The exploration of each coating

would require careful attention,

as every detail may bring,

meaning to the painting’s revelation.

Like the previous chapters of my life,

the unrealized dreams, yearnings of the past,

unfulfilled hopes – these all resurface

from time to time in my thoughts.

Yet, I am on a new path,

ever since I left my past at the border;

a new trajectory, meant to last,

as if born anew, ever looking forward.

Having sloughed off the doldrums,

brushed off the dust of yesteryear,

and shed outdated programs,

to embrace all that is real.

Still, I am only a human being,

full of memories, dreams and the potential

to transcend, while remaining grounded,

ruminate, while not getting lost in the consequential,

and move steadily forward, while being at peace.

Chiaroscuro in Pixels

It is very hard to write this way, beginning things backward…
– Hemmingway, The Torrents of Spring (1926)

Like a canvas, a tabla rasa, a fertile void,

I sit in front of the screen with a blank document.

The contents of my personal past, impressions,

stored in long term memory, surface upon reflection.

The neocortex bears its fruit, when searched at will,

for the pieces, fragments, and shattered images.

What is actually “recalled” may be newly formed,

especially if semantic memories mix with episodic.

In placing any of these reflections upon a blank page,

they are first filtered through perception.

Perhaps, an artist has more control with a brushstroke,

than a poet, taking liberty with shadows and light.

This is the question, how to present the puzzle,

in a way that best represents the truth?

Stars and Dew

The stars spin around,
at heights, above and below
the earth’s equator.

On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the concealment of G-d’s presence is greatest (Accidental Talmudist: Summer Solstice and Judaism). While other ancient traditions mark the day of solstice in their own ways, Jewish tradition evokes the quietude of an inward reflection (Chagigah 14b). Additionally, the month of Tammuz, that always occurs around this time, is a time of introspection, as we prepare to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, and the subsequent loss of the Temple(s).

Interestingly, the summer has already begun, according to the religious calendar of prayer, whereas the liturgy demarcates only two seasons: summer and winter, encompassing two seasons each, out of the four observed on the civil calendar. On the first day of summer, on the liturgical calendar, the Tefillat Tal (Prayer for Dew) is recited. This always occurs on the first day of Passover in the Spring (according to the four seasons model).

Midnight Prayer

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.” – Job 38:4

Safe and sound, guarded by angels,
before I sleep tonight, I pray for all,
whose sleep might be restless, as
the fire grows closer to this town.

Any sign other than a divine one,
would not be as reassuring to me;
the sacred name of the angel,
Rafael is given to this current fire.

Of natural origins (lightning strikes
according to the will of the Creator);
His designs transcend the understanding
of the limited human mind.

So, I find myself wondering,
what the purpose may be
for misfortune when it occurs,
in so many forms.

And, the only answer given,
is the whisper of the wind,
echoing the words of G-d,
who inspired Job with awe.

Cascades

Ever flowing Spirit of Life,
cascades from one world to another,
emanations from Above to Below –
from Heaven to Earth.

Cascades from one world to another,
trickling Light down through the spheres,
from Atzilus, to Beriah, to Yetzirah, to Assiyah.

Emanations from Above to Below:
from Emanation, to Creation, to Formation, to Action,
mirroring the essential elements of divinity.

From Heaven to Earth,
the Light contracts, from Infinity to finite actualization,
where the Shechinah dwells in Malchus HaElokim.

Soulful Ingredients

A dose of discernment,
an ounce of wisdom.
Two pounds of knowledge,
plus a life time’s worth
of yiras H’Shem.

Grant light unto me,
from the stars above,
to shine in my heart.
And truth beyond measure.

From one end of heaven,
to the other end of heaven,
may all of my mitzvot
be like seeds planted,
with a great yield
at harvest time.

A dash of hope,
every morning
when I wake;
a pinch of joy,
to flavor each day.

Faith in abundance,
throughout the night;
and, an everlasting
supply of belief
in G-d above.

Off the Tracks: Steam Engine & Soul

‘“Raw steel tracks vibrate as they run across concrete at crossings, forming geometric bliss.” 

The steam engine, bringing life to vast land areas, sparsely populated, after tracks laid down, stretching for miles. This entire continent – spanned from Los Angeles to New York City – through a network of railway tracks, connecting coast to coast. Each spike placed in the right place; every concrete slab supporting the means for train cars, pulled along by the locomotive (engine car) in front. The tracks serve their purpose, waiting in silence for the next train; supporting tons of steel as the train grinds steel against steel, sometimes sparks flying upwards.

Freud’s entire model of psychodynamics was inspired by the mechanics of the steam engine, as well as the laws of thermodynamics. Freud’s concept of psychic energy was derived in part from, and analogous to the steam that is used to power an engine. The first thermodynamic principle, “energy can neither be created nor destroyed” also played a role in the formation of the conceptual underpinnings of Freud’s theories. Like steam, one of the three forms of water, psychic energy can also manifest in different forms, including neuroses.

Yet, human beings are not machines; nor, are we computers, even though some psychological theories today are based upon a computer model. Rather, like the soulful stirrings of the horn being sounded by an engineer, as a train passes through city limits, the soul itself sounds out against the realities of the world, led by an unseen Engineer. Inasmuch that human beings preceded any invention made by human design, it is reasonable to view the psyche (soul) as part and parcel of the overall design from Above.