124. A poem to the narrow escape; the quick-breath look over the shoulder; thanks for eluding the grip of danger and destruction. And again the bird, winged but helpless; fragile, tender, weakened under the crushing blow of hatred and oppression. The snare. The teeth. The overwhelming drowning waters.
This poet has known depression, its dark solitude, the lack of promise. The utter helplessness of it all.
Except: "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Name, Maker of heaven and earth."
Like the wonder and miracle of the trees this time of year; the clear sky, blue and pure.
125. There are two geographies I identify with: the prairie of Wisconsin and the hills around Jerusalem. In the core of my being, these are me. When Jacob dreamed his dream, the Sages say the entire land of Israel was beneath him. It's like that. There are places and times when we become the land. I have felt that in my life in two places and so it shall always remain. Nearly twenty-one years in Brooklyn, and I just don't feel it. Though I do enjoy very much all the new bike lanes.
"As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Eternal is round about His people, from this time forth and forever." Earlier the poet had made the claim that those who trust in the Eternal "are as Mount Zion, which cannot move but abideth forever." In other words, we are a trusting hill and we are surrounded and protected by promise, mutuality, covenant.
You know how the landscape looks when hills converge, one upon the other, and the vista allows for small pathways, in and out, to arrive and escape? This is the flow of spiritual traffic. The crooked along crooked paths, led out of the City; the righteous move inward, to the City, with the Eternal round about.
126. "When the Eternal brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream." Those dreams. They seem to last for hours but science and medicine tell us that they are but a few brief moments. The Sages call them 1/60 prophecy. I read this psalm with a broken heart at how fleeting is the dream for a return to Zion, how soon after our arrival, following each exile, does the dream end and the interminable challenges of governing in righteousness become our singular challenge. And in the coursing veins of that bloody realism, the world waits for our missteps, ready to pounce. It's critical, in every generation, to stay positive! "Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed, he shall come home with joy bearing his sheaves."
We reap what we sow. It's always true, no matter how look at it, no matter when.