At the Table
*from One With Willows, copyright 2019 by Joan Myles*
We raise our glasses,
wash our hands ceremoniously,
dip our greens and boiled eggs in salt water.
and sing songs of praise.
In the middle of it all, we eat—
matzo ball soup and fish loaf for tradition,
pomegranate chicken and parsley potatoes for today.
And this morning, you are the wicked child,
the one who asks, “What does this mean to you?”
“You are not unredeemable,” I assure.
“There is always a place at the table for you.”
And you hug me tight,
my bad boy,
who never stops questioning the world,
the reason for pain and war and strife,
who never stops loving me.
*All over the world we Jews gather to remember to celebrate and to never forget how far we have come. And how far humanity has yet to journey in search of freedom for everyone. The first step is to know the story. And to tell it to our children who might ask by way of these simple questions*
What are the Four Questions ?
"Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzoh, but on this night we eat only matzoh?"
"Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?"
"Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once, but on this night we dip them twice?" and
"Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?"
The answer for each question describes specific events in the Passover story and the symbolic meaning of each of these events in relation to the Passover festival. The first two questions and their answers both symbolize and remind us of the burdens of slavery, and the second two questions and their answers both symbolize and remind us of the glory of freedom.
Answer to the first question: We eat only matzah because our ancestors could not wait for their breads to rise when they were fleeing slavery in Egypt, and so they took the breads out of their ovens while they were still flat, which was matzah.
Answer to the second question: We eat only Maror, a bitter herb, to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that our ancestors endured while in Egypt.
Answer to the third question: We dip twice – (1) green vegetables in salt water, and (2) Maror in Charoses, a sweet mixture of nuts and wine. The first dip, green vegetables in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of tears with gratefulness, and the second dip, Maror in Charoses, symbolizes sweetening the burden of bitterness and suffering to lessen its pain.
Answer to the fourth question: We recline at the Seder table because in ancient times, a person who reclined at a meal symbolized a free person, free from slavery, and so we recline in our chairs at the Passover Seder table to remind
*A poem a day is a lovely way to celebrateLove and Life and one another. So please feel free to add your verse in the comments for all of us to enjoy!*
yes you feel it in the air
you hear it in the breeze
a rhythm ringing sweet and fair
outhumming all the bees
some claim it’s Spring
but we know better
Poetry’s the thing that swings
regardless of the weather
Snow Dog dashes through the frost
To catch the ball at any cost
Meanwhile I slip and think I’m lost
But hey it’s only Winter
She brings the ball back caked with ice
Held in her mouth and don’t think twice
I feel like I am rolling dice
But hey it’s only Winter
My hands are numb my nose is blue
“Just one more time and we’ll be through”
She’s quite a Snow Dog it is true
And hey it’s only Winter
Here in the Willamette Valley February marks the middle of the rainy season. Song birds cheerily proclaim their message of renewal. Breezes stir the air, and push against me playfully as I walk along beside Aries.
For her part, Aries seems to snuffle the yard with renewed interest. Because everything is new. Renewed and alive. Everything is celebrating LIfe. Again and again. One season at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
And hey! Speaking of celebrating, today is Aries birthday. Three years old and spirited as a colt. Aries is already a pro at getting me up and moving. She carries her yellow ball around most days. Ever ready and hopeful that a game of fetch is just around the corner. She lures me out of my chair by squawking her toys. She runs up to me in the hall and tugs me into the living room. Growling and wagging and prancing us around in circles. During games of Scrabble with J she frequently interrupts by “showing” me her ball without actually giving it to me. Walking backward she leads me away from my chair and into her play.
And oh what a walking partner she is becoming!
So Happy Birthday to you, Dear Aries! Now let’s go play!
What could be better than a brisk walk around the neighborhood with birds twittering and the breeze stirring the air all around you?
Well, I’d have to say it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood amid birdsong and breezes with my amazing Seeing Eye teammate Aries!
And oh, the things we encounter along the way!
Today for example. We were treated to a hawk circling overhead. His piercing “scree” alerting us to his continued presence as we rounded the corner. Only I was distracted. Aries remained totally focused on her work of leading me safely down the sidewalk.
Then there was the jogger who passed us by on my right. “Good morning,” she huffed softly. “Good morning,” I smiled. And Aries remained focused all the while.
Sometimes when a dog appears down the block or especially across the street, Aries takes a moment to assess the situation. She watches with great interest. Often stops abruptly despite my prompting. But always moves silently along at last. The other canine might pull at its leash or bark a greeting our way. But Aries knows her task. And she keeps to it.
Aries is getting to be a pro at showing me the curb cuts when we come to them. She glides me past street signs and mailboxes. She stops to alert me to barriers–like a vehicle blocking our path. She takes me around the barrier and back onto our route.
And once home,once my coat and her harness have been properly stored, she joins me out on the deck for a lively game of fetch. Because as the end of the day, she is not only my walking partner. She is my buddy!
before the rubber ball leaves my hand
the air welcomes it
all laws of gravity and politics
because within the world of this miniature sun
abides the sacred space of anticipation
the unfettered joy of leaping forward
free and unafraid
the singularity of space and time
of motion and stillness
Because there is only this circle of living light
soaring on invisible wings
waiting to be seen and cherished and delivered back to me
wet with slobbery delight
by Joan Myles
Fog on a Monday ain’t so bad
As long as Sunday’s heart was glad
And Tuesday’s plans don’t make you mad
Because it’s only weather
Dark in the window ain’t so bleak
If the kitchen sink don’t leak
You may fret and feel a freak
But at least we are together