Poetry and prayer are all I've got
July 14, 2014
I have been watching the news (and reading blog posts and tweets and Facebook updates) out of Israel and the Palestinian territories with a sense of unbearable heartbreak. It brings me to the brink of something like a panic attack: my chest tightening, my throat choked with tears, the embodied feeling that the grief will wash me away altogether. And I am aware that those who live there are experiencing something far more powerful.
The only thing which brings any comfort is poetry and prayer. Bethlehem Blogger posted A prayer in times of violence, which though it is explicitly Christian speaks to me nonetheless. Wendell Berry's poem The peace of wild things speaks right to my heart. I daven the oseh shalom blessing -- "may the One Who makes peace in the high heavens make peace also for us" -- with particular fervor.
If there are prayers or poems which bring you comfort at times like these, please feel free to share them in the comments so that other readers (and I) can benefit from them.
I wrote a prayer in 2012 called Prayer for the Children of Abraham / Ibrahim, which begins:
For every aspiring ballerina huddled
scared in a basement bomb shelter
For every toddler in his mother's arms
behind rubble of concrete and rebar
For every child who's learned to distinguish
"our" bombs from "their" bombs by sound...
I hate that it is once again resonant. I yearn for the day when this prayer will look outdated and ridiculous -- when the children of our children, running across this prayer in some shred of their grandparents' generation, will say "I can't believe that war went on for so long." Please, God, may the day come speedily and soon.