Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar is a poet, spiritual counselor, inspirational speaker, and author of CCAR Press publications Omer: A Counting, published in 2014, and Amen: Seeking Presence with Prayer, Poetry, and Mindfulness Practice, published in 2019. In this challenging time, she shares her poetic reflections on faith, courage, wisdom, and resiliency.
“Leave the door open a bit,” I said.
He looked at me as if he heard only soft sounds, vowels and breath. The sun seemed stuck on its way down beyond the horizon. There was an early evening afterglow. “Don’t close the door,” I said, “I like the sound of the rain, and the color of the trees and the thickness in the air. Just leave it ajar.”
The rain was falling fast and constant, straight down. It made the sound of the nighttime pitter patter that comforts the restless soul which is unwilling to settle down. The trees were bright green, defiant, and proud to line the lane in beauty.
It had been raining all day. I followed the loud alerts from my phone and television warning of flooding. The Des Plaines River was already swollen, each day certain trails were impassable. This was going to make things worse. For sure.
Why does every word sound like a metaphor, every thought symbolic for a greater truth?
The river escapes beyond the banks,
the path impassable.
The sound of rain,
the bloom of trees.
The out of control nature of things.
This morning I got dressed. White leggings and flats with a bow that no one will see. I put on a moss green tunic I bought several years ago in Jerusalem from a young woman. She was skinny and artsy with a tattoo and a nose ring and curls that had a mind of their own falling this way and that way. Her tattoo said “Jerusalem” in Hebrew. She told me how much she loved the city and though all her twenty-something friends were all moving to Tel Aviv, she would never would leave this beautiful city and how amazing this tunic looks on me and I could wear it this way or that. But I never do. I barely wear it at all.
This morning the rain has stopped but I am still speaking in vowels which must be why Ezra keeps saying, huh or what? The fog settles and the morning abounds with dampness and all paths are flooded.
The one thing I know for sure. Living takes faith, courage, and wisdom.
I know this with every fiber and sinew of my body. I know this with my broken heart and with my unbreakable spirit and with every vowel-ladened breath. FCW is the great truth of the resilient soul, it always has been, and it always will be.
We are living a ricochet of emotions: a wild bouncing between fear and hope and denial and confusion and peace and blessing and guilt and anger and secret joy and despair and existential astonishment. And mortality. And impermanence. And the perpetual question of the soul that asks why, and how, and huh?!
Living takes Faith. Courage. Wisdom.
Because that is the one thing I know for sure.
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar is the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, Illinois.