The children’s service at the synagogue where I teach on Shabbat–filled with singing, dancing, and prayer–is saving me during my never-ending divorce proceedings. Though designed for a young audience, the hour provides an opportunity to reflect on the past week, to give thanks, and to ask for strength in the week ahead. I listen to a few words about the Parsha (the weekly Torah portion), kiss the Torah with the children, and take comfort in the momentary peace.
My favorite part of the tefilah (prayer) is and has always been the silent prayer. While I love our tradition, enjoy the melodies we sing and appreciate the liturgy that has been passed down for generations, the silent prayer is the one prayer I “get.” This prayer enables me to say whatever is in my heart in a way that reflects who I am, silently, unscripted, and uninhibited. My silent prayer now includes hopes for our children and asks for assistance with my problems, but overall the prayer is the same one I have been reciting since I was a child.
This past Shabbat, following class, I joined a friend for lunch at a nearby cafe. As we meandered back to our car enjoying the long anticipated spring weather, we passed by two women on a park bench typing on old typewriters. The sign next to them read, “Give us one word and we will give you two poems.”
Though they were enthusiastically typing a poem for a little girl, I had to interrupt them, unable to contain my curiosity. It turns out that the two poets are riding a tandem bicycle across the country, writing poems in an effort to raise money for small libraries, encourage young writers to explore poetry and build community. As shocking as it was to observe these two women typing on old typewriters on a park bench, it was equally awe-inspiring to learn of their noble endeavor. They were personifying all that I hope to convey to our students on Saturday morning…the importance of helping others and being God-like by bringing light into the world through their own creation.
Like prayer, poetry has a way of touching our souls by capturing the human experience, as well as the divine. Years, ago while visiting a friend on vacation, I walked past a yoga studio and read a poem by Robert Frost that was taped to the front entrance. The lines of the poem are forever linked in my mind with that trip and reunion with my childhood friend. The poem expresses in a few short lines just how fragile life is and serves as a reminder that all good things inevitably end. The poem is entitled “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
At the time of my trip, the poem symbolized for me the end of an era and a transition in my life, as I was preparing for my upcoming wedding. Now, as I anxiously await the completion of my divorce, the poem serves as a reminder that though my love had died and my marriage is over, renewal is inevitable.