Creation Begins with Separation

Creation Begins with Separation
by Carl Josehart

It’s my least favorite part of vacation – perhaps you have faced it as well. You return from a vacation relaxed and in a good mood and one of the first things you face is a giant pile of unsorted mail – a big, chaotic pile that can seem overwhelming to face. If you are anything like me – my natural instinct is to bring order to the chaos.

I start placing the mail into piles. Bills go into one pile so that I will later take to my home office to be paid, I put catalogues and magazines into another pile that I will later take to the den so I can enjoy them during leisure time, personal correspondence and invitations go into another pile and of course – the ever present junk mail – is separated out to go into the recycling. As I sort through the pile and organize it into categories I find that a sense of order begins to emerge from the chaos – I begin to have a sense of what is urgent or not, what is for leisure or pleasure and what is not, what requires action and so on.

In Genesis, the bible describes the creation story in much the same way. We read that in the beginning, “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…” From chaos God begins the process of sorting and organizing the elements of creation. God creates heaven and earth – separating creator from created. Then God begins organizing the newly created world. Heaven is separated from earth, light from darkness, day from night, the firmament and the seas, dry land and waters. Next we begin to see the differences within aspects of creation. For example certain parts of our world are set into a regular course – such as the sun and the moon moving in a fixed pattern of day and night, the regularity of the seasons. As creation continues we see the emergence of aspects of creation that can move as they please – animals and human beings. Finally there is the distinction between humans – who have free will – and all other living creatures.

Just as God makes order out of chaos by sorting and separating the different aspects of creation – human beings have given the same power to make order out of our chaotic world.

One of the ways that we create meaning is to create separate times and places for different uses. For example, objects take on special meaning – become sacred – when we separate them from all others and use them only for special purposes. One of my childhood friends came from an extended family that had created their own unique tradition. Each Passover the family who had the youngest child was sent a glass wine pitcher and small drinking glass to use at their Seder. The pitcher and glass had belonged to my friend’s great-grandmother and had been originally purchased for 25 cents – to look at them the objects themselves had no distinguishing characteristics – no intrinsic value. This pitcher and drinking glass became a cherished heirloom because, over several generations, they were separated from all other objects and came to represent the welcoming of a new life into the family and into Jewish life.

Candlesticks transform into Shabbas candlesticks if we separate them from the other candlesticks we may own and use them only to light Shabbat and Festival lights. Through this process we begin to associate them with special times and their presence helps to create a mood. Special foods can take on special meaning when we separate them from others and only use them in certain circumstances –for example matzah on Passover, apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah, or latkes on Hanukkah.

In much the same way, places become special when we set them aside for special purposes. For example a building becomes a place of worship –when we set it aside and use it as a place of prayer, learning, teaching, and gathering to celebrate with member of our faith community.

In Genesis we witness the step-by-step process of God transforming chaos into a beautifully organized world that has day and night, seasons, sea, land and vegetation that supports life. Perhaps as humans we have the opportunity to create meaning in our often busy and chaotic lives by separating certain times and places from all others. If we set aside special time with the ones we love and protect it from all other intrusions we create the equivalent of “sacred” spaces in the midst of our ordinary routine.


What Makes A Moment
by Carl Josehart

Unmarked by daily use
the accouterments of daily
life become wrapped in charm
and disappear amid the
profound and pleasing

Unreachable by troubles past
so it seems
new trouble
wrapped in adventure
marks the journey
will spice up the retelling

A single seagull
sings out his song
and quickly flies to find
where friends have gone


 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving
by Carl Josehart

For these things I give thanks
Food in abundance
A safe place to stay
Family and friends who surround me with love
And a sense of order and caring, and a belief in God, in the heavens above

For these things I pray
Food in abundance – for those who are hungry
A safe and warm place to stay – for those who are out in the cold
Family and friends – for those who are without love
And a sense of order and caring, and a belief in God, in the heavens above

For all these things were given to the people of the earth
Along with laughter and gaiety, and mirth
With all that was given – the knowledge of good and evil was taken
But, it seems, the responsibility that accompanies that power has been forsaken
We have forsaken family and friends, and those who need us to surround them with love
Along with a sense of order and caring, and a belief in God, in the heavens above


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Sometimes

Sometimes
by Carl Josehart

Sometimes he calls to me sweetly in the middle of the night
His voice still gently echoing as I greet the morning light
Sometimes he cries for me bitterly clutches me and holds me tight
Sometimes I wish for him eagerly – trying to summon him with all my might

Sometimes I come to him needing his love, his touch, his kiss
When he accepts me, and loves me, it seems like perfect bliss
Sometimes he turns away from me angrily with a hiss
Sometimes I imagine him holding me – trying to make up for the caress I want and miss

Sometimes he storms up to me and boldly takes my hand
And leads me off, curious about what mischief he may have planned
Sometimes it will be to the beach to run barefoot in the sand
Sometimes to listen to music played by his favorite band

Sometimes I find him sitting quietly alone
Our lying in bed, crying, staring at the phone
Sometimes I can comfort him with my touch and reassuring words spoken in quiet tones
Sometimes the best I can do is hold him and try to make his pain my own

Sometimes we go gently into the stillness of the night
Often we rest easily til we are woken by the coming of morning’s light
Sometimes we fear the dying, lie awake, and hold each other tight
Sometimes we fear from the our weakness, and other times, from our might


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Reach

Reach
by Carl Josehart

Reach for distant shores
my little one
sea shells
gentle waves
sandy shores
sunny days
a peaceful earth

Reach for high hills
my beautiful one
twinkling stars
snow capped peaks
the moon at night
the sun at mid-day

Reach for God in heaven
my child, symbol of hope
angels ascending and descending on Jacob’s ladder
surrounded by divine protection
hugged by your parents’ loving embrace

Reach high
my young one
and wide
and far
your fragile little body
the next link in an ancient chain
your expanding intellect
the storehouse to come our national treasures
your unblemished heart
full of compassion and love
your perfect soul
full of wonder and praise

Reach
Grow
Fly


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I Give You Torah

To my dearest cousin on the occasion of her daughter receiving her first Siddur.
– 1/31/2017


I Give You Torah
by Carl Josehart

My darling child
many things I gave you seem
temporary
as I look back on them now
food eaten and gone
clothes you grew out of
toys you no longer use to play
But two things I gave you go with you
Forever
even when I cannot be near
I gave you love
I gave you Torah
pass them on

Thank you
dear mother
for the many things you gave me
food to nourish my growing body
an education to nourish my growing mind
love to nourish a growing capacity to care
and Torah to nourish a growing soul
Now
here is my child
help me as I
pass them on

Mothers and the Almighty
Eternal partners in parenting
milk
honey sweetness
from words of Torah
to nourish our young
heart and mind
body and soul
to keep them strong
even when we cannot
be near

My dear child
I look at
your fragile little body and see
the next link in an ancient chain
your expanding intellect
the storehouse to come of our national treasures
your unblemished heart
full of compassion and love
your perfect soul
full of wonder and praise
My darling child
I give you love and
I give you Torah
pass them on


 

Going to the Gynecologist With My Mother

Going to the Gynecologist With My Mother (and Oedipus)
by Carl Josehart

Going to the gynecologist with my mother
and Oedipus
after vanquishing my father
over a decade ago
with a random thought
(I wished him dead once)
I never entered her bed
And once being pushed out
from a womb
never sought to re-enter
but now
the gynecologist
with diagrams and sketches
invites Oedipus and me
in for a tour

Earlier
in the waiting room
my mother answers pages of questions
about her medical history
Oedipus shifts uneasily in his seat
when she gets to the questions about her
sexual history
she giggles
her cheeks gently blush red
and she whispers
“fargessen”
in our mother tongue
when the form asks about
pain with intercourse

later
in another room
they take out her uterus
place of our birth
homeland of our clan
doctors dance in circles around her
while products of her now diseased womb
wait patiently nearby

God
“source of all life”
“creator of all flesh”
a womb
from which was born a
chosen people
protect her now

Going to the gynecologist with my mother
and Oedipus
the rhythm of life
beats loudly
like the pounding of my heart
the doctor’s words
painful intercourse
about prognosis
treatment
and cure

afterwards
watching blue lips
struggling to form words
labored breathing
clutching at the air
he whispers
mocking her words,
“fargessen?”
“ich vet keynmol fargessen!”
(I’ll never forget)

The Unlived Lives of the Parents

“The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rockstar and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.”
― John Green,  The Fault in Our Stars


The Unlived Lives of the Parents
by Carl Josehart

the unlived lives of the parents
will be visited on the children
unto seven generations

failures
chances not taken
talents lacking
born too late
original sin
inherited

unrealized hopes
fantasies
shards
discarded fragments
holy ashes
residue from sacrifices
made on
altars of propriety
sensibility and
good common sense

seeds sown in anger
despair
plowed under
yield bitter fruit
lost harvest
rotting on the vine


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