As a Jewish kid in a small city I suppose I had it pretty good, enough of us that I didn’t totally stand out, and it helped living a single block from the Jewish funeral home, some just didn’t want to travel all that far when the inevitable time came.
But we soon moved to the suburbs, the shtetl neighborhood was gone, and I was a Jewboy to more than a few, so the Temple felt like a safe place, setting aside all the OT stories which were wholly unblievable.
I took a fair number of lumps for killing Christ and all other imaginary sins freely attributed.
I wish I knew then that as an adoptee I was really only half Jewish, and that the other half among my distant kin were kings and saints as well as a fair number of sinners.
The melody arose from the most unexpected place. They heard it deep within the woods and even the birds fell silent peering around, searching for its unrevealed source. It carried on for several verses and then, as quickly as it came it was gone, the final note carried off by a spring wind. No one entered, no one left the woods that day and though many searched no instrument was found and the trees of the woods grew silent at the searchers’ approach.
Today in odd places, at the most unexpected moments, a child will smile without reason, a young girl will laugh, the young boy will stroke the neck of a wandering cat, and in that place at that moment there will be a simple peace. Only the children will notice this, though it gives lie to those who deem peace impossible. A child knows that it is only preconceptions and attachments that blind adults to the peace that surrounds them.
Last night the actors trod the boards carrying us on their backs. This wasn’t Pittsburgh but we believed it so. We’ve never been to the Hill but we walked its blighted streets. In the mirror we are white, but not last evening. He is five years dead but last night August Wilson escorted us to a place we had never imagined, and we were all too glad to visit.
There is a language spoken within a family that no one outside speaks. It may sound familiar but listen carefully and learn otherwise. It is so with my brother even though there are thick walls between us and yet, in a few words intentions are obvious. He keeps me far from a place I’d just as soon not go and in her panic my mother hears only our words and not their hidden meaning. It is when we fall silent the conversation begins.
When a leaf leaves the tree it falls precisely where it should. When a flower petal is carried off on a strong wind it comes to rest in the proper place. When you smell the sweet aroma of next summer’s roses use the nose you had before your parents were born.
A reflection on case 32 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye) Koans
He is, he claims, a practitioner of feng shui, and will, for a nominal fee, arrange our home in the harmony it requires.
His fee, of course, is nominal to him only, and hardly one we would incur with the expenses of a new home, with two of too many things, and none of some necessities, which our local merchants will provide for their own nominal fees.
And I don’t know that I want to pay to watch him move two small pieces of pottery and rehang our art so that whatever Chinese gods he channels will be pleased, all while taking our home away from us and leaving a place of his we merely inhabit.