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Listen: A Prayer for the Sh'ma

Listen: A Prayer for the Sh'ma

I was told, once, that if we, as Jews, remember only one prayer, the Sh'ma is that prayer. It defines us in the declaration that God is One. It is a command: "Listen!" It is hope - in unity, in our covenant, with God. I wrote this poem as a tribute to the Sh'ma; this is what I feel and hear, when I recite the prayer. I believe we are connected - to the earth, to one another, and to God, and the sounds that we hear (all of them) declare the unity of God in a single note. We listen, we hear, and so we connect with God.


No-- really:
Can you hear it?
That thrum,
That vibration--
Up from your feet,
Through your leather-soled feet,
It moves,
Filling you
And buzzing up
And building
Till you want to burst
With breath
And life.
It moves in the drone of traffic noise
And birdsong,
And wind that scrapes against
Leaves the color of heartbreak gold.
And the air smells of cold
And wood smoke.
Can you hear it?
All of it?
It's fast and slow together--
And tender as love,
And driving
A moving, pounding
Syncopated fifth
That gathers you in
And you're part of it--
All of it--
A single note
A holy, sacred note
that rises,
Like breath
That is the voice of God,
That starts like a thrum,
Like a drone,
And a buzz,
And so filled with glory
And joy
And bursts,
Uncontained and fierce--
A single note
Of gathered sound
And God.

Stacey Zisook Robinson is a member of Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL. She blogs at Stumbling Towards Meaning and is the author of a collection of poems and essays, Dancing in the Palm of God's Hand.

Stacey Zisook Robinson

Published: 11/05/2013

Categories: Practice, Prayers & Blessings
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