Cosmic Love. Florence & the Machine.
Strange Fruit. Billie Holiday
I had a medical procedure done yesterday and my mom said good morning with this picture. Peace.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver ~
The Jewish observance of Passover remembers the tension in this story quite well. Among the Jewish holidays, there are some happy holidays and there are some more somber holidays. At Purim, we read the book of Esther, dress up in costumes, and are commanded to drink so much that we can’t tell the difference between Haman (bad guy) and Mordechai (good guy). I kid you not. Then, there is Yom Kippur on which we literally put on our death shrouds, deny all bodily needs, and repent of our multitude of sins (some of which, I am quite sure, are committed on Purim). However, Pesach is in the middle. We celebrate by having a Seder meal during which we recount the story of the exodus from Egypt. In this meal, we are supposed to drink four cups of wine (not quite the level of Purim, but, depending on your alcohol tolerance, enough to start getting giggly) and remember the slavery from which we came. When we recount the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians, it is here that we reduce our joy. As we recount each plague, we dip our finger into our wine and place a drop on our plate. After ten drops accumulate on our plates, we experience the joy of gaining our freedom from slavery, but we simultaneously mourn the loss of life. Our celebration is in the middle.
And here’s a fun secret: the story is not over. Though Moses and the Hebrew people have crossed through the middle of the plagues and through the middle of the sea, they have yet to cross through the middle of Sinai and enter the land. And here’s the thing about the land. They have to work to stay in it (and we learn that they don’t do a very good job). The promise of land is the promise of more middle.
When we think we’ve arrived, we’ve arrived into the middle. When we think there is such a thing as resolution, we are fooling ourselves and are in for a major disappointment. Life is the middle. Life is the tension. Life is the cycle of slavery to freedom to Sinai to land to exile to return to Diaspora. We are never settled. If we are to meet God or to meet meaning or some semblance of truth in this life, it is in this unsettled existence of the middle. It is when we reflect upon our middle experiences that we can look back with wonder and say, “Who is like you, oh Adonai, among the Gods – you who are wholly inconceivable and you who are intimately present?”
…written by Jenna Kemp
am really into insta.