Earth Etude for Elul 23: Day of Atonement

by Carol Reiman

The river sings to you, the voice of clear water, of ripples, of force over stones. Listen further, to sounds of children splashing in the great heat, where the flow is sullied from the waste of carelessness and greed. The gasping of those weakened by asthma in the droplet laden pandemic air. How, how did it come to this? Who did not see, who looked away?

Stand by the tree, its massive trunk reaching into the sky, underground its community of roots. See the developers who come to remove the living growth, uproot its foundation, separate its life from its kinfolk. Who did not offer another plan, not delay the construction, not stop the bulldozer?

The man speaks to you in tones rich with meaning, of his work, his family stories, of what he has seen, his dreams for the future, his hopes for his children. See him taken down, his neck constricted, his breath choked out. Who saw and did not cry out, not shove aside the knee, not prevent this, again and again?

Stand before the gates, your chance this year to say what you did and did not do. If you still have life, you must protect the lives of others. What do you now know that you must say and do, for the river, the tree, the man, the breath of life that moves in you and those still living? You may not live til all is as one, but you must do the work as long as you have breath.

Carol Reiman tries to connect details with bigger pictures, to breathe, and to let others breathe in peace.

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