Tricky Torah: Taharah & Tumah
Facing impermanence

New Zeek

I just got my copy of the spring/summer 2005 issue of Zeek magazine, which includes my poem "Asher Yatzar." I'm deeply pleased by the company my work is keeping; Rabbi Jill Hammer and Hal Sirowitz both have poems in this volume, too. The issue also features some terrific nonfiction, including "Not Pure Black and White: a meditation on baseball and race" by Michael Blumenthal, and "Religion, Spirituality, Contemplation, Love" by Jay Michaelson.

Jay's essay knocked my socks off. This piece explores "religion," "spirituality," "contemplation" and "God;" what those words do and don't mean, and how they overlap; and how the triangles of the Jewish star point in both directions, from our ordinary lives towards awareness of the One and from that awareness back into our lives. Along the way he converses with Schleiermacher, Heschel, Cordovero, Kerouac, and Anne Frank.

While I was reading the essay I grabbed my commonplace book off the shelf and copied several quotes down for ease of later reference. Here are a few of them:

Being religious, in the sense that I understand the term, is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of love. I have more in common with an atheist who dances than with the supposedly pious men who are asleep in their lives.

Moses asks how he's supposed to describe this YHVH process, or thing, or being, and gets the reply Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, "I am That I Am." Take out the personal pronoun, and you get "It Is What It Is."

Being in love with God is like being in love with a person; paraphrasing Jack Kornfield, sometimes it's ecstasy, sometimes it's laundry.

Any essay that makes me reach for the notebook and pen is an essay worth rereading, and I recommend it highly, along with the rest of the spring/summer Zeek.  (For what it's worth, the quotes immediately preceding these in my commonplace book are from Wendell Berry and Madeleine L'Engle. I'd say about half of the quotes I copy are about writing and the other half are about God, but the ones I return to most often speak to both of my perennial fascinations...)

A single issue of Zeek is seven bucks. You can subscribe for $14. This is a beautiful journal and it's worth supporting. Buy it here.