Friday, August 9, 2013

Midrash on the Shehecheyanu

Perhaps this is a prose poem, perhaps a prose prayer poem. I don’t know. But I’m on track, preparing for my Bat Mitzvah coming up at the end of September. The invitations are in the mail. It’s happening. And this is my midrash, a form of storytelling exploring meaning, on my favorite prayer, the Shehecheyanu.

I imagine a life infused with prayer, the shehecheyanu on my lips when I taste the first peach of the season, the first ripe plum, words to slow me down, to say as my Grandmother Sarah used to say, Taste, Sandella, taste—her mandelbread, her chicken soup, tsmis, sweet potatoes mixed with prunes, the taste of time, her fingers circling shabbos candles, my feet climbing mountains, first with Lucy, my beloved standard poodle at my side, then with Lucy and Sam, Sam a standard poodle, too, now with Sam, time working on all of us—the moments we had, the moments that Sam and I will have, the shehecheyanu on my lips, thanking Life itself for my strength, for the beauty of a wildflower, sky and clouds. Shehecheyanu, Hebrew for who has given us life, parents, grandparents, generations reaching back across a sea into unknown villages. Unknown cities. So many sustain us, grandchildren, children extending our lives with new families, in Yiddish, our machatunim—and our friends.

The shehecheyanu celebrates what is new or what feels new, a hike in the mountains, a baby naming, a Bat Mitzvah—so many moments in which to thank God, the God I do and don’t believe in, the God that means something different to each of us-- that I am alive. If only I could come to each day with that joy. I can’t. I don’t. But, silent or sung, the shehecheyanu can bring me there, Baruch Attah Adoini Eloheinu melach ha olam, shehecheyanu, vikimanu, vihigyanu, lazman, hazeh, Blessed are You, Adoini, for giving us life, sustaining us and allowing us to reach this joyous season, this moment in time.