10/01/11: shana tova

A friend reminded me it was Rosh Hashanah by inviting me to dinner. She made a brisket and I made a honey cake. We said the blessings. We dipped challah and apples into honey and offered wishes for a good year around the table.  Throughout the evening, the other diners sneaked into the kitchen to listen to how the playoff baseball games were proceeding, and none were thrilled with the results. I halfheartedly cheered for the Orioles, to the others’ consternation. Truth is: I lost interest in baseball when the Senators were sold to Minnesota.

My tomatoes are coming in and the weather is changing. I always feel that this season is the most authentic for celebration of a new year; it’s the time when schools reopen, the Jewish high holy days occur, we enjoy the harvest, and—coming to an endpoint—we trace our re-entry into dark days where things go into hiding, hoping to endure another winter; as we hope separately and with others to be written into the book of life (ספר החיים) for another year.

After the meal, we spoke of psalms for the holy days. The psalms are wonderful poetry, the first poetry that I loved, the poetry that brought me to poetry. Like may good poems and songs, they are full of conflicted and contradictory emotions; because they are religious, they often proclaim values and ideals that make us uncomfortable in our contemporary lives, and so we remember the parts we love best.

It is your face I seek.

Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn me away in anger
for you have been my helper.

Do not reject me or forsake me,
Though my father and mother forsake me,
I know you will receive me.

Teach me your way
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this—
I will see your goodness
in the land of the living.

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