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


 

Memories

Memories
by Carl Josehart

Memories of the future make their way slowly into my mind
Repetitious images of my life in times yet to come
I am moving back and forth through space and time
Not knowing how to find my way to them or how to return to where I’m from

Suspended, now am I, unable to find roost – just to fly
Knowing in my dreams where I am meant to be
Remembering failures and how hard it was to try
Comforted, in those times, by what I told myself the future had for me

Muddled and confused, I wonder what is real and what a dream
Unable to separate for myself fantasy from fact
I look for a source of knowledge to tell me what it means
Hoping I will find it while my life is still intact

But reality seems to change as I move from place to place
Each embracing me for the moment – then turning it fades away
Is reality so fragile that it shatters when I avert my face?
Or, is it that I haven’t learned to hold it firmly, and make it want to stay

Wishes so old have become memories
The future so long awaited is now the past
Dreams too weak to live must now be grieved
The present is all that is left for me – I hope I can make it last


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My Words Are My Children

My Words Are My Children
by Carl Josehart

blank pages
inseminated with ink
burst forth with
life

single words
divide and
reproduce
forming
lines
stanzas
poems

grow and
mature
become
books and
collections

my words are my
children
nurtured through
stormy adolescence
stand now as
markers of a life
bridge to the future
pieces of the past
voice during silent
eternity

 

(Re)Union

(Re)Union
by Carl Josehart

Once tightly (inter)locked
our lives now collide
randomly
as a ball against bumpers
in an arcade game

(Re)connected
temporarily
yoked
like mismatched animals
conversations move in fits and starts

(Re)union
revisiting
old relationships
people
stuck in the mind’s eye
in a time long past
straddling two worlds
past
wished for and actual
present
grief and pain
renewed

(Re)surrect
dilemmas
justify
decisions
choices
long since made
and lived with

Re(flections)
mirror
relationships
of a self
my image no longer reflects
“You haven’t changed a bit”
hits like an accusation
or worse,
an indictment

(Re)member
what it felt like
to be an insider
part of the club
dues were high
taken without remorse
membership
like a long labor
is hard to give up
without a child
to show for so much pain


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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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Gleanings

Gleanings
by Carl Josehart

A clay bowl
fired by the intensity of her gaze
filled with the abundance of her caring

A handkerchief
hand-embroidered
stained from tears shed during many difficult goodbyes

A paperweight
black as night with filigree of silver and gold
given to me for no reason at all

Brass candlesticks
wax cleaving to their sides
leftovers from quiet eves
dinner with friends
romantic nights

A picture
of parents that were mine
could have been mine
should have been mine
on the mantle

Pieces of my past
testimonies to my life
gingerly packed and moved
where I go
set down like roots
nourish me
and tell me
I’m home


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