So, first of all, I don’t know if you heard about the crazy wildfire/arson thing last week, but if you did, you probably calculated correctly that there isn’t a whole lot to burn out here and that I was probably okay. Eitan was out hiking with a group on Monday, and one of the foreign firefighting aircraft flew low overhead; it was red and yellow, and he eventually figured out was probably from Spain. Thanks! 😉
Last night, though, a terrible tragedy struck our community. A 10-year-old boy was killed in an accident at the traffic circle down the street. We don’t know the family personally, but in a community like ours, we have multiple connections. Eitan and I attended the funeral this morning.
What can I say? How can I begin to describe what it’s like to watch a family say goodbye to their child?
The mother said that this was God demonstrating to her that it’s impossible to protect our children. He’d been wearing a helmet, crossing at the crosswalk. This is what is so rattling about things like these. We move through our lives thinking we have control and that if we just do everything right, everything will be fine. But it’s not true. That’s not the world God made.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t protect you,” the mother said.
Daggers in the heart.
I started writing the following poem before I left for the funeral, and finished it when I came back. It is a kind of exploration of a phrase Jews say when we hear bad news: barukh dayan haemet, “blessed is the True Judge.”
“Blessed is the True Judge”
We push it out disbelieving lips
We force it past our clenched jaws
“The Lord gave, the Lord took away
May the name of the Lord be blessed”
A child to rest.
Why did You give
Only to take?
Why did You nurture
Only to break
Our hearts into a thousand pieces,
Shattered like the vessels that broke
Because the world You made was too small
To contain You?
Be the True Judge
Perhaps it is not praise
Perhaps it is an accusation
Perhaps it is
Judge of Truth
Who takes a child in the height of his youth
Who forces a mother to bury her son.
Expand Yourself, O Holy One!
Magnify and sanctify Your own great name
In a world doused in tears and engulfed in flame.
Whisper in our ears
That You’re still here
That the pain has a purpose
That will one day be clear
That You do not hide Your face in vain.
Embrace us. Comfort us.
Heal our pain.
Lord full of mercy
Hear our prayer.
Don’t make us carry this.
It’s too much to bear.