Rituals, spiritual fidelity, and turning toward God (Naso)
On the Tent of Nations, destruction of orchards, and the path to peace

All at once

From God's high vantage
    -- spacetime spread out
        like an endless scroll --
 every trip I've taken
    between these two places
        is happening right now.

I'm passing myself
    at 30,000 feet: seventeen
        and flying home for Pesach

clutching a grey sweatshirt
    from the college my parents
        don't yet know I've chosen,

thirty-five with diaper bag
    full of earplugs to hand out
        when the baby starts to scream.

On a plane I haven't taken
    God can see me flying back
        with my black suit folded tight.
Knowledge I never wanted
    from the tree I know everyone
        eventually tastes, eyes watering

from the fiery sword
    barring me from the home
        to which no one can return.

I'm spending a few days in south Texas, visiting my parents and reintroducing my son to the sights, sounds, and scents of my childhood hometown. Flying down here a few days ago, I was struck by the vivid notion that if I could see the world as God sees it, I would see all of my trips between my birthplace and the Berkshires at the same time...including trips I haven't taken yet.

The final two stanzas allude to the story from early in the book of Bereshit (Genesis) when a cherub with a flaming sword is stationed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to keep Adam and Chava out. One can read the Eden story as a lesson about childhood and about the bittersweet implications of gaining knowledge and losing innocence. No one can remain in Eden forever.

Wishing everyone blessings on this 42nd day of the Omer.