Posts Tagged ‘symbols’

“O Word, you word that I lack”

August 21, 2015

Schoenberg’s Moses voices the agony of formulation, expression and communication. What needs or can be said – and to, or for, whom? Can God be expressed – or only addressed, as Buber suggested?

Usually once a day, normally before sleeping, for thirty years or so, I kept a handwritten diary, very often noting – and mainly ignoring – any dreams, which I’d enter on waking. Bizarrely, perhaps, I stopped when word-processing replaced writing.

The entries forced me to reflect on the day: what had happened, what was important or difficult, what was left-over and, very occasionally, how did the dreams connect. I wrote largely for me.

Sermon writing, of course, was different. Here I needed to formulate thoughts on what I believed to be important but, though beginning with myself, essentially for others. A theme might be suggested by the week’s Torah or prophetic reading or by something happening in Jewish life or global events. Rabbi Lionel Blue, when I was a student, had told me that I would not have time to write my sermon, so I had better learn how to speak from notes.

I usually began to think about a sermon around Wednesday: what would its theme be? Sometimes, little was in place even when I woke on Shabbat morning and then it was a time of terror and agony, of reading and prayer while I struggled in these last hours to pull something together. I could face the community still with uncertainties and these were not always the worst sermons.

To formulate a thought, to publish it and, if I am very fortunate, for it to be read, to receive a response – such is the opportunity of a blog. 

Two are lost in a forest and fortuitously meet one another. Now at least they know, according to the story, the false path along which they each have travelled and together can search for a new one. 

Spending the time in this way, in comparison to tweeting, seems immensely satisfying but what do I really want, or need, to say? 

Given the power of the internet, I am not really alone. Many of us journey together and provide knowledge and understanding which can be immensely valuable. What, for example, is symbolised by this forest? I ask the universe and answers richly and generously:

I can continue the struggle (which, after all, is the meaning of the word ‘Israel’: s/he who struggles with God) to become clearer and stronger on my own particular path – with your help. Hopefully, together we might find a new way.