Fruits: a poem for Shavuot
May 14, 2018
The fruits of my hands
bright origami cranes
minced garlic and chiffonaded kale
clean t-shirts, folded.
The fruits of my heart
poems of yearning and ache
text messages that say I love you
in a hundred different ways.
The fruits of my mind
sentences and paragraphs
eloquence and argument
new ideas casting bright sparks.
The fruits of my soul
the harmony that makes the chord
prayer with my eyes closed tight
inbreath of tearful wonder.
I offer the first of these
the best of these
in my smudged imperfect hands
from my holy imperfect heart.
I have been in tight places
I've cried out -- and You heard me!
Now I stand on the cusp
of flow and abundance.
I give You these first fruits
not because they're "enough"
but because I want to draw near
to You, now and always.
The fruits of... In the days of the Temple, we brought the first fruits of the harvest as offerings to God on Shavuot. Today our harvest may be more metaphorical.
Hands... heart... mind... soul... This is a reference to the Four Worlds teaching that is central to my understanding of Jewish renewal and to my spiritual life and practice.
I have been in tight places... Deuteronomy 26 teaches that when we enter into the land, we are to take the first fruits of our harvest and bring them as offerings to God, whereupon we are to recite "My father was a wandering Aramean" -- the passage recounting how we went into slavery in Egypt, and cried out to God, and God brought us out from there with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.
On the cusp / of flow and abundance... See Deut. 26 again: these words are to be recited as we enter into the land, described (Deut. 26:9) as a place of milk and honey.
I want to draw near... The Hebrew word for "sacrifices" or "offerings" is קרבנות / korbanot, which comes from the root meaning to draw near. The English word "sacrifice" connotes giving something up, but the Hebrew korbanot means something we give freely in order to draw nearer to our Source.
I'll offer this poem during Shavuot morning services on Sunday at the Progressive Shavuot Retreat at Surprise Lake. If the poem speaks to you, you're welcome to use it too, as long as you keep my name attached. (That's always true, by the way: I welcome and encourage the use of my poems in services, always, as long as there's attribution.)