Riding With the King
This week's portion: harvest

A favorite poem in a new setting

I posted last week about giving a sermon to my pastoral counseling class. This week I'm enjoying the experience of listening to my friends' sermons! It's been lovely to relax into listening to their voices and their teachings.

In his sermon, my friend Jeff read a poem by Louise Glück which I have long loved. I think of it as a poem for March, a poem for that moment in the cycle of mud and ice and thaw. But when he presented it in a High Holiday context, I realized that it speaks to me at this season, too.


Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring--

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

-- Louise Glück, from The Wild Iris

"[R]emembering / after so long how to open again[.]" Isn't that's the work of teshuvah, deep down? Peeling away the husks of old habits and old paradigms, and reminding ourselves to open up to the gifts of the wild and complicated world.

Good poetry is like good liturgy: every time I read it, it says something different. Not because it's changed, but because I have, and it speaks to me where I am now, in this moment, right here.

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