We must carry the pain of this world, feel its weight, its sadness, and its burden.
We live as one humanity, in one world, one community, and our neighbors are kind and beautiful and they are callous and indifferent and they are hateful and evil.
So, choose, what kind of neighbor do you want to be? And we choose to wake up the apathetic soul. And we choose not to look away from the glare of cruelty.
Who are we, for God’s sake? Who have we become?
Today, August 6, is my brother’s birthday. After his sudden and tragic death, I wrote this prayer. I offer it to all who are suffering:
Esa Einai: I Lift My Eyes
For Neil Dion Schwartz 1958-2002
I am searching for words
For the words that describe,
Make sense, or at least comfort.
Words that summon me from the depths
Of my solitude.
In the night, there is darkness.
Restless attempts to sleep,
Twisting, turning into the shadows.
As I seek a comfortable pose
I bring my knees to my chest
Folding my dreams in half;
Will the crease ever come out?
And in the day there are
Silent attempts to find hope.
Twisting, turning toward the light
As I look for direction, a path, a way.
It is not easy to find the way.
I lift my eyes to the mountains
Heaven lays her head upon the mountaintop
And I begin to climb.
What is the source of my help?
I climb and gaze upon the vistas.
More mountains, more horizons
Never-ending moments where heaven meets earth,
Never-ending possibilities to meet the Divine.
Lift me, carry me, offer me courage.
Help me understand life’s sharpest paradox:
That to live is tragic and wonderful,
Painful and awesome, dark and filled with light.
I lift my eyes to the summit
And as I climb I find my help
In the turning and twisting it takes toAscend.
I have found a path and it is worn and charted
By all those who are summoned from solitude.
I take their lead.
And I know that in the most essential way
I am being carried up the mountain.
And even now,
Dear God, even now
I am not alone.
From The Bridge to Forgiveness: Stories and Prayers for Finding God and Restoring Wholeness. Republished in Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry, and Mindfulness Practice, CCAR Press, Coming in December 2019.
Rabbi Karyn Kedar, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL, is widely recognized as an inspiring leader who guides people in their spiritual and personal growth. She is the author of many books, including Omer: A Counting from CCAR Press, and Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry, and Mindfulness Practice, coming in December 2019.