Shekhinah: Borchu (Bless the Lord)

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Shekhinah: the Presence
Shekhinah: the Presence

Section 4 of “Shekhinah: The Presence” by Joseph Zitt
This is an unedited scan of the text, courtesy of Josh Ronsen
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"Bless the Lord, who is blessed!"

Our leader returns,
her arms waving
semaphores and signals,
disrupting our focus,
returning our eyes
to the service we are sworn to perform
returning our attention
  to the call to the Creator
    who demands prayer
  away from the Presence,
    his Presence in her form
      she who radiates love

We breathe and turn,
  denying ourselves
  the ecstasy
  for the moment
until we can complete
  the patterns of prayer
  dictated by law
  and debated by teachers
  over the centuries,
  yet still, in their variations,
  very close to the same;

  any one of us,
  transported to a hall of prayer
  anywhere in our world
  would recognize the litany
  and find comfort in its cadences,

  another door which is all doors,
  another portal of words
    which connects our world
      to a world without words
    our world today
      to the world to come,
      or, at least,
      to the world to which
      each of us,
      may someday come

  though we know well
  (some more consciously than others)
  that the world to come
    is already here,
  that we may dwell within it
    and it within us
    in our prayers
  that the stillness of the Sabbath
    is a precreation
    of what we will
    (someday, somehow)

"Bless the Lord, who is blessed!"

calls our leader,
and the phrase loops back on itself
in its simplicity

the Lord is blessed,
  so we must bless the Lord
the Lord is blessed,
  and from the Lord derives all blessing
  so how could we bless the Lord?
the Lord is blessed
  and blesses all of us

so we bless the Lord,
as the Lord has blessed us,
our blessings
  the reflections in a pitted mirror
  of the blessings he bestows on us
our souls
  reaching out, reaching in
  trying to find and echo
  the shards of the infinite
  embedded, glowing deep within us,
our hearts
  pulsing with a rhythm
    (in the silence of true meditation
    we can hear it, feel it)
  that we hope may match the
  breaths and tempos
  of the root tone of the universe
our voices
  when we raise them in song
    all in tune
    all in key
    all in rhythm
  so that when we find a share
    the central tone
    the pulse beat
      of the heart of the Lord
    the frequency, the pitch and color
      of the Lord's power,
      the Lord's Presence
        (who stands among us
        surrounded by us,
        surrounding us
        joining us,
        her glowing resonance
        synchronized with
          the power of the Lord
          her ancient
  the shards in our souls
  may again
    and join all worlds
      with the greater world

so we bless the Lord
calling back to our leader

"Blessed in the Lord who is blessed
  now and in eternity"
  here and out to other worlds
every soul will bless the Lord
  who is blessing
  who is blessed

those of us who may or may not be
  blessing the Lord
who may or may not be
  caught up in the
  circle of blessing
still feel the prayer that flows
  from (to)
  the hearts of the believers

those of us who may or may not
still share the words
  so that from the words
  from the letters and silences
  of the prayers we might
  deconstruct and reconstruct
these feelings
into new prayers
  new statements
  new beliefs
that might resonate
  with our own hearts
and with the different tone
  of the prayer
    as written
    as spoken
    as believed
by those of us
who do fervently believe

"Blessed is the Lord who is Blessed
  forever and ever" 

as our leader proclaims
  repeating our response as her own

from this moment
of joined voices
and statements
sample in words
yet tangled in meaning

we pray the details
all our voices
  joined yet unjoined
speaking larger yet smaller words
  in private utterances
together, yet unsynchronized

and the Presence
  for that moment focused
  in a single beam of holiness
  surrounds us
and we grasp the Presence
  our hands warmed
  by the contact
  the warmth is spreading
  through us from the touch
    as the night chill
    as the sun appears to rise
from the East, behind the Ark
as the beams and shadows
  shorten, widen
    as we spin toward it,
      until it, later,
      meets and illuminates
        the roof of the sky

and we raise her up
and she raises us up
and she spreads her arms
    like the legs of grasshoppers,
    like the wings of swans,
    like the upraised branches
    of an inverted willow)
and echoes our leader's
  signs and cries of supplication

as our legs,
supporting us,
and, by extension,
supporting her
  as her radiance,
  in its fields of power
  supports our souls
echo the steps of our leader
through the pathways of the law
  the litanies we speak together
  the unseen trails
    of the wonders of which we speak

as we move and speak
  in the phrases of our Teachers
  in the motions of our leader
  in the comfort of the Presence
  of the actions of the Lord
    rippling out
    like the wake of a skipped stone
      upon the surface of
      what was once
      uniformed and uniform
      undistilled and undifferentiated
      until a word
      Let there be
    spread among
      the sacred and the mundane
    and formed the frames of radiance
illuminate the Earth
  and those who dwell upon it...
created glory for his Name,
  and placed luminaries
  about his majesty...
the leaders of his legions,
  the holy ones...
  the ministering angels,
  who stand at
    the summit of the universe...

and our leader,
hearing our independent streams of prayer
  approach the merging point,
  the delta where prayer
  comes again together,
calls out:

"and they all give each other permission
to sanctify the One who created them
  in tranquility
  with pure speech
  and sacred melody
and all proclaim in reverence
  in holiness:"

and our voices merge
and our songs and bodies move together,
  our leader,
  the Presence
    (with her ever-widening glow),
  those who believe,
  those who may or may not believe,
  the Seraphim,
  the Ofanim,
  all the holy beings,
  one joined people
  and ten levels of angels,

"Holy!" (we rise up on pointed toes)
"Holy!" (rise higher,
  straining toward the heavens)
"Holy!" (that the glow of the Presence
  might meet
  the light of the Creator)
"is the Lord, Master of Legions!
The world is filled with his Glory!"

and we overflow,
to the sweet melodies of the creation
  to which our souls sing harmony
  in as many keys
  as there are people,
    and angels

and we try to merge our souls
  as we might gather together the fringes
    from the four corners of
      our prayer shawls
  as we might be gathered to the Presence
    from the four corners of
      the Earth
  as we might be gathered into
  the World to Come
    from all the corners
    the nooks and lost alleyways
    of present, imagines, and parallel
      lines of time

and we close our eyes
and our leader stops her motion,
and, in a sudden moment of infinite silence,
locks her eyes with the eyes of the Presence
and we, focusing with light-fused wills
  the intensity of our intention,
  prepare to proclaim
  the core of our existence in a
  unified joyful cry.

(return to Shekhinah: the Presence)