18 November 2010
But what of the Omnipresence that is Conscience? "Hashem, You have searched me and known me." Here there is no escape from the All-Knowing Eye. No weaseling out of responsibility with double-talk. No clicking away. "Thou measurest my going about and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Eternal, Thou knowest it altogether." Even before we know the words ourselves, there is Knowing. I know this and still screw it up every day. There is no escape during our highest highs and our lowest lows. "If I ascend up to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the netherworld, behold, Thou art there." And not only that, before we were born, a narrative was written for us. We were already in the book. "My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance, and in Thy book they were all written, even the days that were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
I have a picture of my great grandparents, immigrants from Minsk, holding their first grandchild, my father, a year after he was born. I wouldn't be born for another 39 years but I see myself there now, only finally discovering what was already known. Intentions and aspirations, successes and failures, triumphs and persecutions: from Milwaukee to Russia to Jerusalem to Egypt to Canaan to Haran to Gan Eden to the Beginning of Space, Time and Consciousness.
Have I lost you? Please listen to this.
140. "Deliver me, Eternal, from the evil man; preserve me from the violent man." The ghosts of past angers; the descending darkness of those past generations whose traumas we inherit and struggle mightily against ourselves.
Save me from those men, coursing bitterly through my veins, in a race against time for control of my destiny. It's them or me.
The prescription for eradicating my own evil which attacks me, building a prison around my isolation: "The Eternal will maintain the cause of the poor, and the right of the needy. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name; the upright shall dwell in Thy presence." The only door to walk through for peace is that which leads to the redemption of our fellow human being.
141. "Set a guard, Eternal, to my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips." Again a concern with the overwhelming power of wickedness, violence and evil. And again with the iteration that its prevention is achievable through a vigilant protection of our consumption. What we eat; what we drink; what we say. When the only mouths mentioned in this psalm are my own, the righteous who correct me, and that of the grave, there is a lesson to be learned.