Imbolc and the waning crescent of the Shadow Mountain Moon
Tuesday gratefuls: Colors. White snow. Green lodgepole pines. Black sky. Blue sky. Pink skin. Pale coffee skin. Fur. Kep’s. Rigel’s. Hats for us bald guys. Gloves. Coats. My Chilean fjord scarf knit with love. Coffee. That first bitter taste in the morning. Eggs. Bacon. Rice cakes. Pho. The gas heater in the loft.
Continuing to study Art Green’s Radical Judaism. Read the final section of the Torah chapter yesterday morning. The power was out, our generator on, but the internet was down so I couldn’t write.
Last week Rabbi Jamie talked about midrash, a playful method of reading the Pentateuch, Its chief characteristic is finding relationships among seemingly unrelated verses, etymology of similar words, looking at individual Hebrew letters, considering their gematria (numerological significance). Green, for example, explores an Hasidic midrash that connects the ten utterances of God in the creation narrative and the ten dibrot, or ten words, that constitute what Christian’s call the Ten Commandments.
The underlying assumption of midrash is its critical feature. Everything connects, everything relates to everything else. We have to pay attention, be aware. Since, according to Green, paying attention is the ur religious task, occasioned by our nature as sentient creatures, midrash is an important tool for uncovering the occulted sacred.
Paying attention = Carey Ream’s, “See what you’re looking at.”
Midrash as a neo-pagan’s tool is my current fascination. Stars and fish. Mountains and apartment buildings. Cars and amoeba. Self and other. What is the underlying connective tissue? How are they related to each other, how do they critique each other? What can we learn from the frisson between two apparently disconnected, unrelated things?
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A midrash on space and time. Thanks for all the fish. 42. A depressed robot. The restaurant at the end of the universe. Douglas Adam gives us dialectical shock after dialectical shock. Dolphins and whales in space? Building a freeway, through the solar system? The hyper drive. A mechanical person with feelings.
The cloud slowly falling down Black Mountain. When the cloud covers the mountain is the mountain still there? How can small droplets of water obscure (or, delete) 10,000 feet of granite and basalt? What does the gradual disappearance of the mountain suggest about what the mountain itself hides? We live in and amongst mystery.
Gratitude can open us to the midrash of ordinary things. What a wonder, a matter of sacred beauty, is color, which reveals as it hides. That piece of bread, toasted, eaten, is no longer toast, no longer wheat, but is now you. Breathe. We cannot live without the second by second inspiration of a gas we cannot see, yet need desperately. Hold your breath. Know the intimacy of our connection to the world around us.
Think, too, of the intimate connection Green proposes as our new sacred narrative, our link to that first squiggly cell coughed up by inorganic matter around a sea vent or in a tidal pool. Or, press even that idea back to the formation of stars and the creation in them of elements. Extend the link with the flow of change that is our universe. Where does it go? Nobody knows.
I’m leaning into monism right now. Seeing the midrash in the everyday. We’ll see where that takes me.