Beautiful & Ugly: Israel 2014

a balcony in Tel Aviv (photo by Lynne Golodner)
a balcony in Tel Aviv (photo by Lynne Golodner)

horrible hate-filled war

leads to

the birth of the Jewish state

verdant valleys and fierce mountains

where the wind blows proud and strong

captures me in its grip

people think they die for a cause,

go straight to God

but really

A waterfall in the Banias in Israel's north (photo by Lynne Golodner)
A waterfall in the Banias in Israel’s north (photo by Lynne Golodner)

it’s living for a cause

that is admirable

planting trees

to turn desert into landscape

three square miles, shared by all

the world’s religions

truly holy soil

At the turnstile to get into the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, a sticker proclaims God's love (Hashem means the Name). (Photo by Lynne Golodner)
At the turnstile to get into the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, a sticker proclaims God’s love (Hashem means the Name). (Photo by Lynne Golodner)

the woman barks at me

cover your arms, put on your sweater

it’s her job to make me respect her rules

she is my sister

even if we don’t speak the same language

in my dreams

of an ideal world

we live by our own rules

and nod to others to do the same

Orthodox Jews dressed in white dance with Torahs on Simchat Torah, in Jerusalem's Old City, Muslim Quarter, on the Via Dolorosa. (Photo by Lynne Golodner)
Orthodox Jews dressed in white dance with Torahs on Simchat Torah, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Muslim Quarter, on the Via Dolorosa. (Photo by Lynne Golodner)

In the end, we all sing

to the full moon above

and dance on the cold stone floor

our soles clicking,

tapping the rhythm

of endurance.

I wrote this poem last fall, after touring the four quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, on Simchat Torah, the day when my people dance with our holy scrolls and celebrate our relationship with God.

Except every religious holiday signifies our relationship with God.

Our relationship with the holy. If only our lives reflected this holiness.

Too often, we devote our precious time to complaining, criticizing, judging. We hunger for acceptance even as we deny it to others. We pick apart what they wear, how they speak, what they eat, how they create their lives.

But what of us?

a cross-section of people at the Western Wall, Jerusalem (photo by Lynne Golodner)
a cross-section of people at the Western Wall, Jerusalem (photo by Lynne Golodner)

Do we reflect this hatred back onto ourselves? Because really, it is an outpouring of our own discomfort, finding ill with others.

The world is inherently good. In your blood flows my blood. We are innately connected at the core, your god, my god, the god of all beings. Holiness is pure and good and kind. Where it runs amok, that is human mistake.

Today, I learned of the sudden death of a 44-year-old man, one year older than I, the father of a little boy who is friends with my nephews. Suddenly, gone.

Do we give more hugs in our interactions? Or do we find fault too easily, too often?

with my wonderful husband last fall in Caesaria
with my wonderful husband last fall in Caesaria

Last night, I snapped at my husband for forgetting to cook the lamb sausage. Big deal, right? There was pasta and eggplant and Jerusalem artichoke on the counter, waiting for me, covered with foil to keep warm.

He dropped off our eldest at Boy Scouts at the appointed time. It was all good.

But I noticed the negative. Yes, forgive me for what I say when I am hungry but really there is no excuse.

This minute is all we have. Do with it what you will but I beg of you, be kind. Be open. See the good in all. See the glass half full. It’s all we have. And perception is indeed reality.

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