I am poet: hear me read!
Short midrashic poem.

A different kind of Torah

Last night I wanted to be dancing in the aisles with a Torah in my arms, like other folks were. Instead I spent my Simchat Torah on-call at the hospital.

On our first day of CPE, our supervisor spoke about the importance of learning from the "living human document." At its best, this work is not only counseling and comfort but also theological inquiry; every patient, family member, and hospital staffer we encounter is a face of the living God.

Last night I listened to stories about an overseas childhood, a sick baby scare, a robbery, an old wound that still aches. I heard deep anger with religion, and deep love of God. People told me their dreams, sang me snatches of song, and allowed me to witness their grief and their weeping.

There's a beautiful metaphor in Jewish tradition, which describes the Torah as written in black fire on white fire. The black fire are the words on the scrolls; the white fire is what's between them, the spaces and places where new stories emerge as our understanding of revelation expands. Last night I met some of that white fire, the lived Torah of human experience. 

Though I'm sorry I missed the chance to join my congregation in dance and song, I can't think of a better way to celebrate Simchat Torah than this. May we be blessed with genuine joy in the stories we're given, even the difficult ones. May we see, in the unfurling of each others' lives, God continually unfolding.

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