The mysterious thing about the dog in the night

I’ve been talking with people recently about my chaotic psychic abilities, which could be a chaotic psychic ability passed down through my family or just random chance, so it’s interesting that this story shows up in my orbit now, as I’m reflecting again, on this phenomenon.

You can read the story here: Apudzhas Came to Say Goodbye by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the famous Yiddish author, whom you may remember from such tales as Zlata The Goat, Satan in Goray, and The Magician of Lublin. (Zlata the goat, in the interest of full disclosure, was one of my favorite stories when I was a child and I would reread it all the time at the library, particularly when I could find nothing that spoke to me at any particular moment.)

It is interesting to me that our heroine has had those same experiences that I have and come to the same conclusions. Maybe it’s real or maybe its my subconscious and it’s perfectly okay to accept both those realities; to not demand that the mind choose between one or the other, but to accept that both are possibilities.

In a world where we try to enforce binaries good/evil, real/imagined, chocolate/vanilla; it’s lovely to see a story that embraces the and and does not demand a choice, but rather embraces the lack of choice and the willingness to live in that space without judgement.

It’s okay to not know if it’s the divine plan or personal choice, or to accept that the reality can encompass both.

I hope you enjoy the story. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Psalm 26: Conclusion

The Psalm is a personal journey. Previous Psalms have dealt with the well, the klal. But here we personally wish to be seen. This deals with a somewhat personal revelation. What does it mean to want to be seen?

  1. The first person nature of this Psalm. This Psalm is all about my journey, my reflection, my intense relationship with G-d.
  2. What does it mean to be seen, tested, judged, vindicated, appreciated for the totality of self. In Curse of Chalion (Bujold again!) Cazaril talks about what it feels like to be totally the focus of the Daughter’s attention. How utterly overwhelming it is. (“Three deaths and a demon all bound together. They flowed into a blue presence…. Cazaril’s mind exploded. He opened outward, and outward, and outward still, till all the world lay below him as if seen from a high mountain. (ooooh elevated mountain imagery will come up later)…He could hear all the minds of the word whispering, a sighing like the wind in the forest, if one could but distinguish, simultaneously and separately, the song of each leaf….His mind could not hold it all…This overwhelmind Mind listened to every cry or song in the world at once. She watched the souls spiral up in all their terrible complex beauty with all the delight of a gardener inhaling the scent of Her flowers. And now this Mind turned her attention fully upon Cazaril. Cazaril melted and was cupped in her hands.”) This is tiny snippets of a several paragraph long description. The vastness is hard to comprehend but I have appreciated this attempt.
  3. Movement language, as alluded to in the first point, we are on a journey. I am going to some place in this journey of self. With G-d as my companion.

The second section of the Psalm 4-7. We having established our personal relationship, in a brave and bold way, move on to contrasting ourselves with the OTHERS. I’m not going to sit with the bad kids or find myself with them. Etc. I hate that type of congregation of evil. I wash my hands of them. There’s a distinction of redemption. Maybe it’s not that Psalmist was saying I am perfect and always have been, but I was imperfect and I’ve fixed my problem.

The voice of gratitude that tells all (voice/all – it’s a pun in the Hebrew kol vs kol) the wonders.

I love all corners of Your house. Wherever You dwell, I love every nook and cranny of that place. (even the twisty, incomprehensible bits) and all the places that are resting places of Your glory. Note that this is ALL the places. Implying what we already know, that G-d can be found in more than a single place.

And as for me, don’t lump me with those sinners. Our souls are not consorting. “nice nefesh table” I need you to see that I’m not that person, or like those people? Maybe I used to be. Their hands are raw with deceit (contrast to my hands above which were washed with innocence or goodness).

But I am pure now, (repeating from the first verse) I’m better now and going, actively in the right path. Rescue me in graciously.

My foot stands upright and in the congregation (like the kahal of evil above) I will bless the L-rd.

Accepting who we are and allowing ourselves to move forward as worthy of being seen.

I wanted to talk a minute about the contrast between Psalm 25 and 26. They seem very similar. They’re both intensely personal. They’re both journey tales of growth and development, but our Psalmist in 26 is so much more confident. so much more assured. The Psalmist of Psalm 25 is begging Hashem for the ability to bear up under scrutiny, the strength to follow G-d’s path, to cast off past mistakes, to move on this path, far away from the mistakes of youth and my personal history. The Psalmist of Psalm 26 has already done all that work and passed all that development and is ready to be tested. Thinking about this has made me cheat ahead to 27 and

**************STOP RIGHT HERE TO AVOID SPOILERS ***************

sure enough, this one has an assured Psalmist, confident in G-d’s presence and comfort. (It’s l’dovid ori which has come up here before.) Maybe we need to think of this journey less as a flat road and more as a mountain. At Psalm 25, we’re at the bottom of the mountain, not sure we’ll ever make it to the top. At Psalm 26, we’re about halfway up the mountain, and looking both downwards on all the people who haven’t climbed this high (yet) and encouraging ourselves to reach the summit. And Psalm 27 is the summit.

The second verse of this Psalm begins with B. The Bet missing from the previous Psalm? Honestly, I don’t know how much to read into this. If I were a learned scholar, I could author a scholarly paper on what it means that this second verse has the line that maybe should have been in the previous Psalm. How this line about testing me was the missing piece that the Psalmist couldn’t be exposed for in the previous verse. How the Psalmist just wasn’t ready in Psalm 25 for that level of testing. I could probably talk about how the Psalmist has used the Vav missing the acrostic isn’t the leader in this Psalm either, but it reoccurs frequently within the Psalm to string together so many of these ideas. I would talk about how our missing Kuf lifts its voice (B’Kol – verse 7) to shout to the Kahal (congregation), “I am here too!” I am part of this redemption arc.

And, cheating, Verse 2 of Psalm 27 begins with Bet as well. Verse 6 of Psalm 27 begins with Vav. And verse 14, the final verse of the Psalm begins with Kuf. I think we’re onto something here. (I realize that Kuf is the 19th letter, but this Psalm doesn’t have 19 verses.) I think we’re meant to understand that this is a triumphant arc and that everything we’re missing when we start in Psalm 25 at the beginning of our journey is given us by the end of the Psalm 27. Which we literally use every year to conclude our year. Mind. Blown.

Time on my hands and emptiness in my mind

So I have a little too much free time this evening and I’m spending it contemplating if I bring value to the world.

Today in corporate diversity training, we were discussing how individuals want to be perceived as individuals, each with their own unique strengths and values and not as a archetype or representative of any of their group classifications. This is all sort of swirling around in my head.

Do I want to put my real name on this blog? Do I want to scrub the blog and then release it with my real name. Or is it better for me to remain anonymous? Am I contributing for real if I can’t put my name to it?

Am I wasting my talents generally? If I got hit by a bus tomorrow would the universe notice? Would I be like my aunt, and my grandmother who live in my thoughts every day and I miss them with everything that I am. If I stop living, will others miss them with the fierceness that I do, trying to infuse their lives and legacy in my every work? Or am I like sparrow’s tears? Meaningless in the broadest sense and easily forgotten?

Psalm 26: part 2

Vindicate me. I have been doing all these things, I can prove it. Take a look and see what I’ve done. I am going in the right direction.

Continuing on from verse 4:

Now we start talking about all the people who aren’t doing the right thing. This is a contrast between what I have done -vs- what they have done. I have not sat (consorted) with “mtai shav” those people who have death and deceit (scoundrels or liars) and neither will I go with “nalamim” hypocrites, or those who disappear. (Rashi: go into hidden places and do evil things in the dark) People who talk the talk, but then disappear when the work needs to be done.

I loathe the congregation of bad people (evil people) and with the wicked, I will not sit.

Not only do I walk in the ways of your Truth, I eschew all these different evil people.

I wash my in cleanliness my hands. (washing myself in innocence and cleanliness and tidiness). Making everything very tidy. (Rashi: not robbing with my hands). I’m so distanced from evil, my hands are clean, as theirs are not.

I encircle Your alter, G-d. I’m really in your company, hanging out with you, not those evil people. You can see me not doing these things or hanging with these bad people.

You will hear my voice of thanks, as I tell of Your wonders.

L-rd, I love Your holy house and the place of Your glory. This place where I’m encompassing, I’m here because I love it. See that I’m hear and I’m doing these things because I love being here and doing this.

Do not lump my soul together with those people who sin or with the people of blood. (murderers). Don’t consider me as one of those sinners or murders.

In their hands is craftiness/plotting and their right hand is full of bribes.

What’s evil or toxic. What are the categories of people we don’t want to hang out with. Murders, probably not, but the people who lie and a two faced, people with ulterior motives, people who are using for the benefit you can give them. When you have people who groupthink evil who will draw you in. People who stand idly by while evil is being perpetrated in front of them. These are the things I’m not doing, and the people I’m keeping myself separate from.

Update

I should mention that my FIL is doing much better now. Still in hospital, but off the oxygen. They think he has a blood infection of as yet unknown origin, and I’m trying not to let that strike terror into my heart, although of course it does because it’s hard to fix what you can’t find. And there’s that quiet fear of having already lost a friend this year to an unknown, unable to be found infection.

Like Pirkei Avot says, though, I’m trying to judge each case on it’s own merits, not sweep to judgement based on past experience. He’s doing better. That will be enough for now.

Psalm 26: Part 1

To David. (closer to David than a song of David, we can’t even have a word between us.)

Judge me!/Vindicate me!

Because I am blameless/pure. A lot of first person language and repeated me!

I’m going to walk in your path, because I trust in you. I am steadfast. Unshaken/Unshaky. Unfaltering.

I am going your way. I’m not going to falter, stray, shake, I’m doing it because I am pure (Tam, uncomplicated and blameless).

What are we working with? If we see ourselves on the battlefield with the struggles that we face, then shift from 25 to 26, we are expressing a lot of anxiety and fear around being seen by G-d. But when we’re standing facing Mount Sinai waiting for revelation, we are not trembling because we are going to see G-d, but rather because G-d will see us.

In this Psalm we are prepared for that. We’re asking G-d to see us. We have accepted the work Psalm 25 and overcome those fears and now we’re asking G-d to see us. To judge us. To vindicate us in the eyes of the L-rd.

This Psalm is about us. We are the subject in relationship to G-d and G-d is the object. And this is going to resolve around being seen fully by G-d as we discussed in the previous Psalm.

Test me, L-rd, try me! with the repeatedly language, Test me, try me are roughly synonyms, using the words of the Akaidat Yaakov, and challenge me. (Written as Tzerofa with an extra Vav) more on that later.

I feel it in my guts (internal organs) and my heart. (that I am ready.)

Because Your kindness (chessed – deep radical unconditional, transcendent kindness) is kneged, (against) my eyes. (azer knegedo – help meet against each other). Imagine living your live with that deep revelation of chessed pressed against our eyes so it’s all we can see. We certainly would have the confidence to be seen by G-d and to send wide open and allow G-d to test us to know that we could pass any test G-d would set before us.

And I have walked in Your truths. (halachti (from above) v’hitalachti now) I am causing myself to work. I’m charting my course. I have walked in my simplicity but ultimately I’m compelled to follow in Your Truth.

The difference is that transition in verse 2. What happens in verse 2. The testing. First I am alone standing before you working on my internals, unfaltering, but preparing to the test. Then You see inside me, the work of my heart, the yearning of every part of my body. And you extend Your chessed to me expanding my walk and my journey to every aspect of Your truth.

Pouring out my heart

My father-in-law is in the hospital and according to mother-in-law is doing very poorly indeed. The hospital doesn’t know what is wrong with him so I suppose we don’t either.

The last time I heard someone say to me, “They’re not sure what’s causing that.” the person I heard it about passed away 3 days later without anyone being wiser as to what exactly was causing it. I know it was a different situation, in my head, but my heart has not gotten the memo and it is sore afraid.

I wish I were the type of person who found consolation in prayer, but I have not seen the revealed power of G-d through prayer in my life and I cannot find comfort or faith there, because I know the end result will be for a purpose I do not understand. Prayer does not end death, nor does it push it aside. Prayer is telling ourselves we’re okay with G-d plans even on the days that we don’t understand them or accept them.

We say that prayer, returning, and charity turn back the evil decree. I wish I could believe in that.

Another Language Post

So one of my dumbfuck conservative friends posted about how stupid the world is now because people want to replace “mom” with “birthing parent.” This is a move meant to be inclusive of trans and non-binary biological carriers of babies but I see a lot of issues in the language.

Not in the stupid, dumbfuck way OMG FAKE OUTRAGE we can’t say MOM anymore!!! way my friend is looking at it, but just in general, with the language. I think it’s fine to update “pregnant woman” to “birthing parent” in legislation and whatnot. But that doesn’t equating “mom” with “birthing parent,” for a lot of reasons. One, it’s extremely restrictive to define “mom” as “birthing parent.” That’s not really how we understand Mom. I don’t know if “primary female caregiver” is the correct definition of a mom, but definitely don’t think it needs to be limited to “birthing parent.” I feel like I could write whole books on how “mom” should be defined. It’s certainly come up here before in talking about what a “real mom” is.

I’m also rebelling against DINO and RINO (Democrat In Name Only and Republican in Name Only). Neither Democratic Party members nor Republican Party members should be a monolith of one single idea. I think that’s part of what’s wrong with the country is that polarizing, YOU MUST DO/THINK/BE X in order to be a Y. In a time when we’re getting away from rigid definitions of what it means to be male or female, we have to polarize our party system into a all or nothing? Guess what? You can be a Republican and believe in adding gun control legislation. That doesn’t make all your other positions suddenly liberal.

At the end of the day, I just think I’m exhausted from being around draining people and should probably go sit in a quiet air conditioned room and not think about anything.

Poetry Therapy

I recently had an appointment with my neurologist. I’ve had migraines since the onset of puberty and have been under a doctor’s care for them since college. My current neurologist I’ve had for about 15 years, so we have, it’s safe to say, a relationship. This is the first time I’ve seen her in person since the pandemic because for many years she has kept my migraines under control to the extent that I’ve really only had to see her once a year or sometimes every other year and keep my prescriptions fresh. She has moved her office out of my suburban area and so a few years ago, I thought I might try to go to a local neurologist, not because I don’t love her, because I totally do, just that it’s sometimes hard to get an appointment when I need one, her office staff (shared with a clinic) is extremely meh, and her new office is 45 minutes away on a good day, and they ain’t all good days. So I saw a new neurologist and explained what was going and she said, “if you’re pretty much in maintenance mode, I would say your best bet is to keep your current neurologist because she’s fantastic, one of the best in the area, and if you give her up and your migraines take a turn for the worse, it’s going to be really hard for you to get back in to see her.”

So we’re going through the usual questioning and she asked how my depression was doing. I told her it was pretty low and quite manageable at the moment. She asked me if I’d found a new therapist yet. (this is conversation that spans years. My therapist moved about 8 years ago and I’ve had a dreadful time trying to find a new one and have given up like 5 times.) So I admitted that I hadn’t really been looking, but I was going to this Psalms class on clubhouse and I found it really useful as a way of redefining mental health.

She asked me to explain, so I said that Rabbi Jess uses the imagery of the Psalmist as warrior to talk about battling inner demons and using the language of the Psalms comes up with ways to redefine our understanding of ourselves and I’ve found that very helpful in thinking about my mental health and managing my depression.

She considered for a moment and wrote down something, ” so, music therapy, we could call that? No, not really.” (erasing. Rewriting), More like poetry therapy. With a Rabbi. That’s excellent. Really excellent. I’m very proud of you!”

So next time people ask me about my therapist I’m going to tell them I’m in Psalm therapy with a Rabbi.

Psalm 25 in the night

My child often gets maudlin at night. It’s genetic so I don’t begrudge it, even if it is 20% stalling tactic, it’s still 80% legit evening wind-down.

Last night the child apologized “for Monday” saying, “I don’t want to tell people things they already know.” which, long story made short, on Sunday, the child and I got into it over a few different things. First off, the child grouched at me at morning and so I was in a sluggish grumpy mood by the time the last thing happened which is after I took a shower, the child came into my bedroom while I was dressing to tell me how late I was. I kicked the child out of the room with harsh words and we went to separate spaces to feel like crap. (The child is sensitive and will cry when yelled at or snarked at.)

Returning to last night, I tried to explain that additional apologies were unnecessary, it was the past and neither of us were our best selves in that moment, but the child was not consoled by my words. Finally I said, “Can I tell you what I learned in Psalm 25.”

And child said, “Sure. What’s Psalms?”

Argh! What a terrible parent. I started reciting some Psalms I know by heart, no recognition. I sang a few. No recognition. Then I said, “You know how we real Hallel?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Those are all from Psalms.”

“Oh!”

“But later in the book, in the 100s. This is Psalm 25, at the beginning of the book.”

And then I told her about King David and how he wrestled with enemies real and internal. And how he struggled and felt overwhelmed, and ashamed of himself, but in Psalm 25 he asked for help from G-d to be himself and not be ashamed. Not that he wasn’t working to improve himself every day, just like we work to improve ourselves, but to not be cast down or weighted down by past mistakes. And how alone he felt in his world of every mistake he ever made, but trying to fight through that to recognize that we’re all in the same boat, all wanting to be better, all of us surrounded by these mistakes we’ve made in the past that weigh us down, but how G-d can elevate those mistakes, not to get rid of them, but to keep them from holding us down or holding us back from being better.

It’s okay to have mistakes in our past and we’ll certainly have mistakes in our future, but none of that should take away from our ability to be ourselves fully and to love ourselves and each other.

And the child said, “But you’re perfect. And Daddy.”

And I laughed and said, “You know that’s not true. I just told you that I wasn’t my best self on Sunday and I often fall short of perfection. But I will always keep trying and I always keep loving you.”

A Psalm for all things, indeed.