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A Psalm: A Song of Beauty and Grief

A Psalm: A Song of Beauty and Grief

Birds flying against a stark white sky as if to represent serenity

I have always loved the story that the rabbis tell, that they decided to place Psalm 150 as the last of the psalms because they knew that after all the words have been said, what is left to praise God is music - the timbrels and shofars and rhythms of song. And it ends with the joyous command, "Let everything that breathes praise God!"

I wrote this poem in honor of a dear man, a beloved pillar of my synagogue who died last week, thinking "after the words, after the music, after our very breath - what comes after that we can continue to praise God?"

A Psalm: A Song of Beauty and Grief

I have lived a life of fierce joy,
pursued a world of justice;
every breath a hymn to Your name,
every step a prayer.

You have lifted me
and I rejoice.
You have sheltered me
and I am redeemed.

And now I am weary,
my body spent.
I long for Your promise
of sweet grass
and still waters.
My words have all been said,
and my music,
once exultant,
has quieted.

There is great beauty in this silence,
and grief.

And You, God,
ever-present,
You speak,
so that time and worlds
continue to be.

You sing,
and the glory of Your song
urges us all to rise.
This was the beginning.
This will be the ever and always.
This is the eternal now.
Selah.

Learn more about Reform Jewish practices and prayers related to death and mourning.

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
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