Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Together We Are The Prayer

by Susan Weinberg

I am always overwhelmed by our final session of the lab where everyone shares their work. Trying to capture it in all its complexity and beauty in no small task. This year felt especially powerful because it is a topic of such grave importance.  Collectively we touched so many different aspects of the environment. There were two passages of Jewish text that so many responded to that I think they bear repeating. 

It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it (Pirkei Avot 2:16)

Beware lest you spoil and destroy my world, for if you will spoil it, there is no one to repair it after you.' (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13) 

The first means we each add our pebble to the pile of change until we create an avalanche. It speaks to both individual and ultimately collective action. The second speaks to our responsibility to preserve, to first do no harm.

Each of us felt a responsibility to add our voice to repair, together it formed a chorus, a prayer of sorts. Indeed, it did feel prayerful as each added their voice through image and word. I found myself jotting words that spoke to me individually, but that collectively do in fact form a prayer. Hopefully you will recognize your pebble within it.

Together We Are the Prayer
Artwork by Leah Golberstein
We snowshoe due North in search of snow,
Strong enough to support the weight of polar bears.
We move on shoes of bone, 
Carefully preserved by vegan hands.
Forty years ago, you raised the cry
Returning to those smoky clouds for inspiration.
We look out from behind glass,
Safe in our enclosures
We hold our breath.
Plastic geese and turtles take form,
While gloves for safety 
Endanger our world.
It is a blackened world.
The smoke rises from the towers
With ash of rose.
Methuselah sounds the alarm,
We are but a speck in tree time.
Tree rings tell us of the past
So, we can shape the future.
What we need is a symbiotic way to heal.
Stay still,
Breathe underwater.
Artwork by Gloria Cooper
How do we cure this sick earth?
The next generation will lead the way.
We start small.
A blade of grass.
Grow, grow
The angel whispers,
It’s not too late.
We can recover
Bringing color back into the delicate reefs.
We’ll use walkabout water in a canteen,
Let the milkweed grow to draw the butterflies, 
And wash our jeans but once a year 
Lest fabric fibers find ocean depths. 
We will find the answer just three feet out our door.

Every unique green, 
A new shade of hope.
We will wear our flood pants
And find our reflection in the stream.
Artwork by Liba Zweigbaum-Herman
Together we are the prayer.  
Let us build nesting boxes to save the spirit of the forest,
Let us sound the shofar, 
And teach the youth.
Because, we want to bestow a future.
We must begin.
Let us find refuge in the womb of nature, 
Finding our way back from fright, 
To beauty 
And mystery.

In closing, let me share the words with which Meryll concluded our lab:
Hazak, hazak, v'nithazek  (Be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened)

1 comment:

  1. This act of uniting all of our groups art pieces into one poem was a stroke of genius and generosity. And you are a inspired poet. Thank you for raising us, connecting us and blessing us as one prayer. Sincerely, Aimee Orkin