Seeing Presence

While in Boston, one of the many places I lived was in a lovely old building in a long-standing Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  Originally, the apartment complex was occupied by Jewish families who needed to live within walking distance of the near-by synagogue since cars were not used on the Sabbath.  Ownership of the building had shifted over the years and it now houses mostly students, but a remnant of its past and location remains: many of the apartment doors still have a mezuzah affixed to the frame.

An example, mine was not as ornate.

An example, mine was not as ornate.

I didn’t notice mine until after I moved in–it was so painted over, the four inch long tube was almost lost against the frame.  But one day, I saw it and knew instantly was it was–the Hebrew letter shin (short for shaddai, or Lord) just slightly raised on its small surface like braile.

Inside the mezuzah lives a scroll with words from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, the Shema prayer, which begins “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One.”

mezuzah

With care, I removed it, cleaned off the decades of paint, and replaced it. The shining metal was now a visible reminder to pray every time I walked through the door.  It was a particularly difficult and lonely season of my life, and my sense of God’s presence was next to nothing.

I made a point of touching the mezuzah, as is the Jewish custom, whenever I passed it.  It became for me a visual anchor, reminding me of God’s presence through the ages–a connection, a quiet memory, a way through, a path forward, a blessing.

4483469721_c594467731_b

yhwh

The mezuzah speaks

of years touched

by fingers of faith or

disinterest

or habit.

Painted over in ignorance

pryed at, forgotten–

hidden scroll still and

silent

like G-d’s voice to Elijah.

My fingers long to seek

connection in

metal and letters, a tie

to a deeper hope

across years and many lives and cosmos.

I reach out with hand, eye, and ask it,

Are You still there? I miss You.

It answers simply

with presence.

Yes.

(Susan Forshey, 2007)

holy experience

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

  • Kelly

    I really like thinking about this:
    The mezuzah speaks
    of years touched
    by fingers of faith or
    disinterest
    or habit.