Saturday, January 09, 2010

Shabbat Wisdom

One of the joys of Shabbat services at Temple Micah is discovering beautiful new poems.  Here’s another from Mary Oliver:

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches --
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead --
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging --

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted --

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

Today’s bat mitzvah student was a girl who had been adopted from a Chinese orphanage as a toddler.  She related her own plight as an unwanted female in a one-child-male-dominated society to that of Moses, when there was a mandate to throw all boy babies into the Nile.  I was in tears before she ever got around to chanting the story of young Moses from the Torah.  She is still very much in touch with the orphanage that was her initial home, sending them money she has earned through bake sales.  Although she is a Jewish American in her current life, she will always carry her Chinese heritage as well.  She wore a lovely tallit made from Chinese silk by her adoptive mother and we ate delicious Chinese food at the luncheon following the service.

(Not a photo of today's bat mitzvah student, but probably similar to one in her parent's photo album.)


Blogger Terry said...

Beautiful poem and lovely story. I have recently discovered Mary Oliver's poetry (where have I been??) and find it resonates so very often with me.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Terry -- The only birthday gift I requested was a book of Mary Oliver's poetry. I have reason to believe it's coming!

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a moving post; thanks for sharing the story, B. And for another wonderful Mary Oliver poem -- wow!


2:20 PM  
Blogger Mary L. Tabor said...

Oh, lovely, Barbara: What a heart you have.


9:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a lovely story and poem. Thank you for sharing!

10:56 AM  

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