Moving into late January
What's rising



The devoted ones of old
     would spend a whole hour
        preparing to meet the Beloved 

(a timeless time in union
    rocking back and forth
        crooning words of love)

then an hour savoring
    the encounter now over,
         slowly letting afterglow fade.

As I get ready to greet you
    my soul, like theirs, sings
        in anticipation of being seen.

Our time together
    is always too short, though
         once gone I prolong it in memory.

I carry you with me.
    You fill the holy of holies
        in my innermost heart.



The devoted ones of old. Talmud teaches that the Hasidim rishonim, the original "pious ones" or "devoted ones," would spend an hour in meditation and contemplation before prayer -- and, some say, would do the same after prayer, too. Rocking back and forth. This is the subtle dance of traditional Jewish prayer, sometimes called "shuckling" (from the Yiddish word meaning "to shake.") It can be traced back to the 8th century C.E., and possibly to Talmudic times. The movement of the body both stirs, and expresses, internal fervor. You fill the holy of holies. In the Temple in Jerusalem, some two thousand years ago, the inner sanctum was called the Holy of Holies -- and was empty of any furnishings or decoration, in order that it be filled wholly with divine presence.

This is another one of the poems of yearning in my "Texts to the Holy" series, though I don't think it will wind up in the chapbook. Still, it arises out of that impulse and out of that love.