Impulse buys
Dear Mom



I read an article yesterday (it scarcely matters about what.) Afterwards I spent a long while working on a terrible poem. Righteous indignation is not a good motivator for poetry. But the news so often fills me with grief and fury. Everyone I know is living close to the emotional boiling point, these days.

We haven't wholly grieved global pandemic, and meanwhile climate disasters intensify (and climate deniers pretend), and democracy is under attack, and the state where I was born is making it illegal to drive on state roads if one's purpose is to escape to a safe state for reproductive health care --

-- and how many of us live with all of this simmering in our hearts and minds most of the time? It's no wonder that even when we're doing all right, it feels like we're barely keeping our heads above water. Still, that's no excuse for terrible poetry, so the poem in question will remain locked away.

I've drafted my sermons for the Days of Awe. I surf the usual waves of worry. Does this speak enough to the challenges of right now? Does it ask too much? Does it ask too little? Is this the right message for someone who maybe only comes to shul twice a year? How about someone who's there weekly?

"You've drafted your sermons already, so what are you doing with all that extra time?" a friend asked. Not enough, was my answer. I should be spending this extra time on my own inner preparation for this holy marathon, but I'm not. I feel guilty. "What if you made your guilt your spiritual practice, then?" 

The question was flip, but also real. If the core question of spiritual direction as I practice it is "where is God for you in this," then I need to find God even (or especially) in the relentless worry and self- critique to which I am prone. Every time I think, "am I doing enough?" I need to respond with grace.

And when the news leaves me grieving or revved-up, the same is true. That I care about the world is a good thing. I just need to use Judaism's tools, because tying myself in knots that can't be untangled helps no one. "Maybe we've had a little bit of a week..." Right on time, here comes Shabbat.