Saturday, December 5, 2009


This morning at 5 a.m., when I opened my eyes, God said: Go read the Torah now. Begin at the beginning.

And I knew what was coming. As God hovered over the dark waters of the morning, I went into the alcove between my husband’s office and the stairs where he keeps all the books that are, for one reason or another, sacred to him.

The books about business and community and architecture; books about attention, meditation and education; and these Jewish books, including two copies of the Torah, which our children received, each from a different rabbi.

To get one, I had to take things apart. I had to peel back the layer of green wire mesh that my husband had, for some reason, bent into a protective veil over the bookshelf.

I took hold of the book and pulled it down, carrying it—great weight—from the back of the house to the kitchen where I placed it on the table.

I circled it several times, as I made tea and put four organic, free-range brown eggs up to boil. I considered the book, plump with portent, sitting ripe as any berry freshly plucked from a living vine; soaked like a sponge in wine and tears and tradition; the waiting wet pond of my people.

I picked it up.

I threw back the cover - wildly, but at the same time, I did it casually, as if I didn’t really care, as if I hadn’t been paddling around its circumference for years.

There was a note, handwritten in the front cover: something about curses, having to do with the Torah portion that my son had pretended to study but which he had really just memorized from a tape that my friend, Marla, had recorded just for him.

The important thing, and the reason I’m taking the time to tell this was the signature of the 30-something teacher who introduced me, finally, to the first page of tradition and who, as soon as our bible study class was complete, left the rabbinate to become a psychotherapist.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with me. I'm sure that, it's just a coincidence that this happened a month after I entered his office and closed the door and handed him my spiritual heart--all shot through and bleeding--and said, "Please."

I'm sure he was already thinking about it.

It’s all God. It’s all being. It’s all doing—and it is all, every bit of it, juicy and dripping with meaning. And God hovering over the mudhive and the swirling, leech infested brew.

Begin at the beginning, God said, and each day we do.

As I write this, at a cafe, I stop, from time to time, to look out the window - an activity which, once, in a writing group, someone told me a poet must never do. She said it would distract us; she said we'd lose our thread, lose our way. Poets, she explained (as we all looked out the window) are especially sensitive to distractions.

Outside, a little black dog who looks exactly like TOTO is barking. He is running back and forth in little stripes along the lawn, just playing with life, unaware that up above, a poet is looking out the window.

He reminds me of my son, who used to run back and forth like that, circling the edge of the playground, his little chin eagerly up, wagging the tail that all human children keep hidden in their underpants lest anyone notice how in love they so easily fall with everything.

I come to the page to talk about the broken place.

I come to capture the rush, of the words, that willy nilly come, tumbling and crashing over rocks that will not move.

I come to quiet the beehive of busy babble in my mind.

I come to find the silence, though nothing terrifies me more.

This morning, when I mentioned, on Twitter, that I believe that God is in everything, someone sent me this message:

@AmyOscar Only 1 true God. The God of Abraham... And all eyes are on Israel..Read What in the world is going on by Dr. jerimah good read.

And I thought. No one is listening. We are all just waiting our turn to bleat out something we heard someone else say.

I do this sometimes. I fall in love with something beautiful that someone else has said and want to write it down and pretend that it’s mine. But I don't. But I want to.

It’s just that I’m afraid that I’ll forget, afraid that some bright word opportunity will flit by and I, so easily distracted, will be looking out the window.

Which reminds me of my mother, for several reasons - most of which I will forget to mention once I start laying them onto the page.The shyness, and the easy distraction and the brilliance that gets lost when she gropes around inside herself for a rope… or a foothold or whatever metaphor she uses to get hold of herself.

And that reminds me of Susan Boyle, the poor tortured, awkward, not ready for prime time singer.

Last year, when she popped up on my Facebook page, I thought: They will tear her apart.

And they did.

On that day: The day when Susan did not win “Britain’s Got Talent,” 218 people were lost in a plane crash at sea. On the same day, halfway around the globe, a man opened fire in the House of God and killed a man who performed abortions.
I heard all three stories on the radio, where it was all stirred together in a muddy cocktail of disaster.
At the end they played a clip of someone saying, “I just hope this doesn’t give liberals a way to paint all pro-life activists as terrorists.”

And I shouted at the radio: “We are ALL terrorists!"

Shouting at the radio is a lot like blogging. You have a great deal to say, and you say it—or shout it—and hope that someone hears.

Poor Susan Boyle. ”It’s unconscionable,” Simon Cowell told her. “What the media have done to you,” as if he wasn’t one of them. She lives with her cats. She’s never been kissed. What did he THINK would happen?

Bunch of buillies in a schoolyard, circling the tongue-tied “plain, frumpy” singer from her little village who, through the sheer force of her beautiful voice (and her compelling and quirky story) got herself 350 million views on YouTube.

“I would hate to be Susan Boyle tonight,” Cowell said, before she went back on that stage and, after not winning, had herself a good cry in her hotel room where she collapsed, and was rushed to the hospital with “exhaustion and a nervous breakdown.”

I knew I'd get distracted. I knew I'd lose my thread.

I get this from my mother who will interrupt even the most important conversation to gasp, “Oh look.” There’s a little yellow bird. Sometimes it’s a butterfly, or her kitten’s caught a leaf; and I’m sure that if a lily happened to be bursting through the bracken, this is the moment when my mother, a poet who insists on looking out the window, would notice it.


Gayle Fox said...

As you always do Amy, I'm drawn right into your words. My arms are covered with goosebumps. Beautiful, once again.

Cindy O said...

I've been thinking about your words and about distractions. In the normal course of a day, if I am intent and focused on a task, I usually accomplish the task, certainly, but at the cost of missing all of the other large and small events going on around me.

I am thinking that it is indeed the distractions that give me pause so I can see.

This post has touched me. Thank you, Amy.

Trish said...

Sounds like your mother may have been the one with the most important story - LIFE is happening all around us!!! as people
were all just waiting their turn to bleat out something they heard someone else say or what happened yesterday.