Saturday, September 18, 2010

An end and a beginning

As the Jewish High Holy Days end, another year begins.  After today's marathon Yom Kippur services that literally occupied us until 7 PM tonight, I feel like I have fully experienced the rehearsal for death offered by this day of intensive prayer.  But I have come away with a renewed appreciation of life and all its possibilities.  It's that squeaky clean feeling of a new slate that is so intriguing.

I could talk about so many experiences today -- both as the member of a larger community and on an individual level -- but instead I will simply leave you with Mary Oliver's poem, which our rabbi Esther read at the beginning of today's service:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


Blogger Pauline said...

I have yet to find a Mary Oliver poem that isn't spectacularly on the mark. My mother used to say (she's been on my mind a lot lately) that one should always learn to smile through their tears for the ending of one thing was just the beginning of another. Life is never boring, at any rate.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I think I am going to have to sit with this one for a while.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm with Gary. This is going to marinate for a good long while.

9:30 PM  

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