The Ending

Yom Kippur
Neilah, the closing of gates
I was determined never to look at my retirement account until it was time for me to retire and spend it. I applied for the position of oud player to the Court of the King. I want to teach quiet people to string words together like beads for the sake of heaven.

So – I said to no one in particular – I think I will. That was last year at this time, during the closing of the gates that we call Neilah.
I felt happy. I knew in my bones in my blood that this is the way I am supposed to feel. It was still light as I was returning the tools of my trade back to the Rainbow Village. That was Tuesday, September 30, 2008. That night I went to bed happy and I woke up happy on Wednesday, October 1st, and I’ve gone to bed happy and woke up happy every night and morning since. I am a happy man.

Today is Yom Kippur, Monday, September 28, 2009.
Last year, the guy who lives in the synagogue complex called Rainbow Village who hums and clicks was walking by me and it’s not as if he started talking as I am talking, he hummed and clicked as he always does but this is what I heard:
Isn’t it wonderful to be alive
Aren’t you grateful for this day and all the days of clarity you have been given
Isn’t it a privilege to have done your good work today with your mind and your hands
And to be tired in the sun with the added advantage of returning your tools to their resting places
That’s what he said

Isn’t it good good
To be alive on September 30, 2008 in the afternoon
To be carrying the tools of your trade after having put in a good day of work
To have taken upon yourself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven
To have put on your yoke of service like all working animals and have actualized your power and potential and served well your Creator
To have been rewarded with something loftier than this perfect day in the sun that you will remember not only from recall
But from your intention to put on your poet’s wild yoke and write these stories
Onto the wind
Into the sky
Out to the sea

Kafka Yom Kippur

The Last Discovered Diary Entry of Josef K

It’s kind of like Yom Kippur for me every day, actually, I am certainly guilty (that I know). Guilty of what, I can’t say. But I awaken with the thought: I am guilty. Perhaps on this Yom Kippur, I can apologize because I have learned there is a difference between asking for forgiveness from other people, and asking for forgiveness from G-d.

For aveirot — unfinished business, between human being and human being, Yom Kippur does not atone. That means I have to go to that person myself, and ask for forgiveness face to face.

For unfinished business between human beings and G-d, Yom Kippur does indeed atone. These are purely private matters, between G-d and myself, best taken care of with quiet, personal moments of prayer.

Now, let me go and find as many people as I can and say this to them:
“If I have done or said anything in the past year that has hurt you, that has offended you in any way, I am sorry. I am truly sorry.”

After I say that, perhaps I should stand and wait for a second with a look of expectation on my face. Oh, I am so hoping that the person will say, “yes, yes! I forgive you.”

However, they might say, “well, you’ve done nothing, nothing at all to me.” I’ll take that as a sign of forgiveness. That might be unsatisfying (for me anyway) since I am sure I have done something though what it is I cannot say. I don’t know.

Or they might say: you can’t hurt me, actually, I am not renting you
space in my life to do that.

I will keep a tally, yes I will jot down a little chart, those who have forgiven me, those who have not forgiven me, those who don’t know what I am talking about, those who think I am nuts. Then I will take it back to my desk, and make a forgiveness chart.

Then I will spend some time in quiet prayer with G-d and ask for forgiveness for all the things that Yom Kippur does indeed atone for.

I will also make atonement to myself, for renting space in my life to those who I think may have offended me.

Yours truly,

Franz Kafka

I forgive you
I don’t forgive you
I don’t know what you’re talking about
I think you’re nuts

How Time Stays

I Came To Understand How Time Stays

Today
I saw her walking
Walking
She was pushing a baby
In a stroller
Her grandchild I guess

Of all the pictures I have in my mind
Of my friend
I will recall this image
She is pushing a baby

Walking
Walking

Because at the seams of our lives
More enduring
Than what we call endings

Are what we call beginnings

They are all seams
But what I hold
In my eye
My mind
My chest
My heart

Are what we call
Beginnings

–written on this seam of
what we call 5770
Since the creation of the world
As we reckon time,

james stone goodman
united states of america

I Stood On a Rock

I stood on a rock
With You
You were wrapped
In a tallit of light
And there I was given forgiveness
For all of us
When I came down the mountain
My face was fire
And on that fire
A mask

If we believe in justice
It is a double course justice
If we believe compassion
There is no stranger
Or we are all strangers
Not just then
But always

If we believe in the community
There is no one outside the camp
Tonight

If we believe in good
Then there is good
And only good

If we believe in wholeness
Then there is no broken
No partial
No incomplete

You are endlessly forgiving
Compassionate
When will You abandon us –

Never

Good Moves

To my community at the turning of 5770
Since the creation of the world
[as we reckon time]

I.
Every day I get up and say
You‘re the master of the Universe
Thank you
Now give me the strength to do the right thing

Every day I get up and present
I take three small steps and place myself in front of You
What’s my assignment
Help me do the right thing
Plant within me the strength to be the person
You intended me to be
Let me be grateful for all the days I have been given —

I am I say
I am You say
Let us be I am for each other.

Every day I get up and I listen for the voice of clarity
There is little clarity
Not much certainty
I am listening I promise You
There is posturing
There is a move here and there
The best is a good move but it’s a move
It’s rehearsed and it’s a practiced move
I am looking for the spontaneous move of deepest sincerity
Basketball moves
That kind of move.

I have been practicing for that move
When I am required to produce
What erupts out of me will seem unrehearsed
It will surprise me most of all.

II.
Your moves inspire me
Because you get up every morning and say
Master of the Universe
Into Your hands I entrust my spirit
At the time I lie down and the time I rise up
And with my spirit my body too
You are with me
I shall not fear
Give me the good move
I need it now
I think.

This year is the year of the good intention
May it be the year of ‘Iyyun the deep look
In our language of acronym secrets anagrams and clues
Let all the signs
The stars too
All the angels and energies totems and intentions
Conspire to be the year of the good intention
The focused action
A hope for the future.

How do we meet the challenge of the future
With more than a wish —
How do we mark the seam of the next year
With more than happy new year.

We are trying to know something deep
Holy and sustaining
The transformational imagos
That we share these Days of Awe
This 5770 since the creation of the world
As we reckon time.

This is it.

jsg,usa

Nine Eleven Prayer #2

On Nitzavim

We are standing today
All of us
The big shots
Chumps
Children
Wives and sweethearts
And the stranger
That is within all of us
Before Hashem The Name
Our God
From the hewers of wood
To the carriers of water
All of us
Every busy one of us
Today.

To cut a deal with You
So that You will
Remember the deal
You cut with our ancestors
Good people
Eager covenant cutters.

But not for us alone
Do You keep this agreement
Nah
Not for us who are here
Today
But for those of us
Who are not here
Today —
Everybody.

For this deal that I set before you this day
You know which one I mean
It is not too far from you
That you should say
Who shall go for us
Nor is it too hard for you
That you should say
Who will do this for us
It is not in heaven
And it is not hidden
And it is not distant
But right here
Under your nose
It is in your mouth
And in your heart
It is sitting next to you on the bench
Waiting with you for the bus
It is standing on the corner
In front of Starbuck’s
Waiting for the light to change
Close
That you should do it.

Look
See
Look See
I have placed before you
The life and the good
And the death and the evil
So love Hashem
God
Walk like God
Do the right things
The simple things and the complex things
Figure out what you can for yourself
And be wise together
Then you will multiply
And God will grow you
And bless you.

But if you don’t listen
And fly away
I tell you
I surely tell you
I know that you will be lost
And your days will not be lengthened
On the land.

So I call heaven and earth together
To witness for you and against you
I have placed life and death before you
Blessing and curse.

Choose life
Choose blessing
Love God
Listen
Glue yourself to God

For God is your life
And the length of your days.
God promised your ancestors
God promised them
I swear.

This Year

The Year of the Ayin
TaSh’A
Tih’yeh sh’nat ‘Iyyun

Master of all the words,

We are breaking in on the year 5770
since the Creation of the world as we reckon time
in our language of acronym
secrets clues and anagrams
TaSH-‘A*
Tih’ye SH’nat Ayin
The year of the ayin
may it be this year — the sign of the eye
vision
mindfulness.

Remember the intention of last year
the sign of the tet
also nine, giving birth
— something entirely new
siman tov
a good sign
resolution
giving birth to the hidden good
this is always our prayer —
good intentions
good signs.

Let all the signs
the stars too
siman tov and mazal tov
all the angels and energies, totems and intentions
conspire to be the year —
it is supposed to be.

This year we begin with ayin
with the eye
with ‘Iyyun
focus
the sense of deep investigation
seriousness
the gaze within
and the freedom of interpretation
every letter expressed through 70 facets.

All our years begin with hope
the possibilities present for the secret good
concealed and congealed in language.

Now – the year of ayin —
the eye, beyond severity, giving birth to vision
something entirely new coming
abundance of understanding ****
better than good when good is not enough
deeper than surfaces
the vision into events
when events lose their opacity
and surfaces release
–for a moment —
to vision
thoughtfulness
mindfulness —

Amein, ameen, amen.

* Above is a poem and an intention based on many sources, but the
basic source is the fact that the year we are entering is called in
Hebrew TaSH-‘A, an acronym that corresponds to 5770.

We play a word game with language, here game is something serious but it has an aspect of play. Every year’s acronym means something. This year it is tav shin ayin, an acronym for may it be the year of the ayin. Ayin means eye, it also corresponds to the number 70, it also gives us ‘iyyun which means a sense of focus, of deep investigation.

** Last year, it was siman tov, the sign of the good, an auspicious beginning for sure.

*** All signs are significant. B.T. Horayot 12a, Keritot 6a

**** There are seventy faces to the Torah. Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15

Seven Weeks

Seven Weeks of Consolation

[From Isaiah 1] Preamble

The vision of Isaiah son of Amotz
The future Isaiah
[Which he saw]
Hear O heavens
Pay attention O earth
Come to me with meaning
Purify yourselves
Remove the mistakes
Learn to do good
Be a seeker of justice
Strengthen those who need strength
Take up causes

Get moving
Let us reason together
And if our sins are like scarlet
They will whiten like snow
If they have reddened like crimson
They will become pure as wool
Turn the darkness into light

The more dark
The more light
Find your willingness

Don’t blame anyone
And all that is impure
Will burn away
In your burn.

[From Isaiah 40] Week 1

Take comfort
Take comfort now
It’s time to come home
Take the straight road home
Time now for the crooked to become
Straight
The rugged
Leveled and low
It’s time
Everybody knows

Get yourself up to a high mountain
Raise yourself up
Everything is in place
Waiting
Waiting for you

Nothing missing
Not one thing.

[From Isaiah 49] Week 2

No one has forgotten you
You are engraved upon
God’s heart
You are written on the palms
Of God’s
Hands

Raise your eyes
And see all about you

You have said
This place is tight for me
No more
It has opened to you

You will be nurtured
And you will be honored
You will know and be
Known

You will be comforted
Even among the ruins
You will hear music
And see beauty
Everywhere.

You will find joy
And music
And gratitude.

[From Isaiah 54] Week 3

And when you feel
Unconsoled
Uncomforted
You will look down
And see yourself walking
On jewels
All your children will be
Students of God
Great will be the peace
Of your children

When you are thirsty
Go and drink
Eat what is good
And let your soul
Enjoy its abundance.

Then no one
Will get in your way
And when you need to
Your soul will
Revive.

[From Isaiah 51] Week 4

It is me
Who comforts you
And when you are scared
You have the words you need
In your own mouth
You will be protected
You may awaken yourself
You may awaken yourself now
And assume your strength
Shake off the dust
Inherit your peace
Turn away from the contaminants
Follow along
Slowly slowly
Cleanse yourself and follow along.

[From Isaiah 54] Week 5

Sing and broaden yourself
Lose your fear
Spread out north
And south
And settle all the desolate
Places

Forget the shame of your past
I give you my kindness
And my covenant of
Peace

[From Isaiah 60] Week 6

Rise
Shine
Your light has arrived
You shall shine
Even in darkness
And God’s way will be seen
By your light.

Lift your eyes
All around you
They are all assembled
To accompany you
Radiant
fearless
And expansive
Shall be your heart

Now you inherit true
Abundance of life

Your light will never
Diminish

All your people are righteous
You are all a branch
Of the planting

God’s handiwork
All of you.

[From Isaiah 61-62] Week 7

My soul
Joyful
Clothes and garments
Robes of justice and salvation
I am like
A bridegroom
His priestly accessories
And a bride
Her jewels
Like the garden
Like the earth
God brings forth
Justice
And praises
Before all nations.

I will not rest
Nor hold my peace
Until we burn
Like a torch
And all the nations will see
You will be called by
A new

Name

Which the mouth of God
Will speak
You will be a jewel
In the open hand
Of God.

The guardians on the walls
They take no rest
Go through the gates
Go through the gates
Clear the way for the people

You are sought
And
Interpreted
expounded
A city not forsaken

Carried
All the days of old.