5766 Poetry Special

This Unit Has Been Refurbished

Teshuvah does not work.

Beat your heart, confess your sins, reflect on your life for ten days straight if you want - but the statistics are convincing -
people do not make significant changes to their personality after the age of thirty.
Your four-valve sack of nature/nurture hardened long ago.
You got what you got.
Deal, cope, manage.
And the distance between you and everyone else grows two kilometers each year.

Self reflection?
Stare deeply into an empty Pringles can.
Personal transformation?
Change your socks.

Rabbis teach:
Teshuvah means returning to God

But what about those of us who never were with God in the first place? Or only visited for a rare weekend?

The King sits in the field, the midrash says – God meets us halfway like visiting a friend at the airport during a layover.

Close your eyes and try for a second to walk in God’s direction – a step closer to the one who is Dayan HaEmet – the judge of all truth.

It ain’t easy.

(It might be easy if you could close your eyes and imagine Santa Claus or that nice old lady from the library – but, fohgettaboutit, that ain’t God.)

God is the truth – with a big T –
what Is.
that which Is.
which includes the truth about you and who you are
– what you are now and what you could be.

Teshuvah might not work. But to God it is the one time of year that the Gates of Righteousness are left opened, the security alarm turned off. Perfect time for a break-in.

This is the New Liturgy

This is the new liturgy
The one that greets the world with that
new hardcover urgency
next year’s model
fresh-baked-out-the-oven nooks and crannies liturgy.

It speaks not of general woes – but of what is broken at this hour
Not a list of historical injustices – but the wrong being committed at this very moment.
It is What Hurts Now.

The early adapters, hipsters, the fashionable, the urban set – they’re all lining up to hear the new liturgy.
And even though you’ve never heard it before it does sound like something you once read.
Traces of ancient love songs,
Hints of a familiar cry,
Was that symbolism pillaged from a medieval homily?
That silence lifted from the meditation of a lost tribe?

Yes! This is the new liturgy!
Freshly scrambled,
Yesterday’s prayerbooks put through the shredder,
This morning’s headlines mixed in,
Strips recycled together and reglued to appear before you as a
new creature,
new creation,
new revelation.

Please turn now to the handout and sing a new song unto God.

Neilah/Closing Time

Attention K-Mart worshippers!
The Gates of Repentance will be closing in fifteen minutes.
Please bring any items you wish to regret to the check-out line at this time.
The Gates of Repentance will be closing in fifteen minutes.
Thank you.

If God were clever,
There would be automatic sliding glass doors that lead into each house of worship.
And you’d put your feet on that black plastic mat
And stand there waiting
but nothing would happen.

And then you’d realize
That it isn’t busted
That your body’s weight has nothing to do with it
All that is being measured is your merit.
Each good deed four measly ounces.

And you’d go back into the parking lot
You’d drive to a dangerous part of town,
and you’d roam the sidewalks, bent on righteousness.