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Who Can’t Breathe? Three Outcries and a Prayer, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center 2021)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=36865 Who Can't Breathe? Three Outcries and a Prayer, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center 2021) 2021-04-22 07:05:13 A prayer-poem by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in 2021 reflecting on our difficulty breathing, as a society, as humanity, and as a interconnected, interbreathing biosphere. Text the Open Siddur Project Arthur Waskow Arthur Waskow the Shalom Center https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Arthur Waskow https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Ecotastrophes Epidemics & Pandemics Hateful Intolerance, Prejudice, and Bigotry 21st century C.E. 58th century A.M. Prayers as poems English vernacular prayer paraliturgical nishmat kol ḥai paraliturgical elohai neshamah 2020 coronavirus pandemic אלהי נשמה Elohai neshamah September 2020 Western United States wildfires 2020 United States racial reckoning State v. Chauvin
In Memory of George Floyd and Thousands More Since 1619.
Contribute a translationSource (English)

I. I Can’t Breathe

Again and again,
With gun or choke-hold.
Police have stolen the breath of Black Americans.
The police are not merely police
For they hold a national authority
To use violence on behalf of the nation:
To serve us all, protect us all.
When they subjugate the Black community
They implicate us all,
They make us all Subjugators
And they subjugate us all.
But their misdeeds have stirred
A great Uprising against racism.
We will let no ruler pretend
The protest is the danger.

II. We Can’t Breathe

All humanity is choking
From a virus that invades our lungs.
We have left no space for other species
And the virus leaps into our lives.
If our rulers minimize the danger
It becomes still worse
Choking our societies, our jobs, our businesses,
Our democracy. Our lives.

III. Earth Can’t Breathe

All life on Earth depends on Interbreathing.
We breathe in what the trees breathe out;
The trees breathe in what we breathe out.
Our Interbreathing is the Breath that keeps all Earth alive.
Our Interbreathing is the very Name we call You,
For YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh
Is the still small voice of simply breathing.
But the Flood of CO2
That we call the “climate crisis”
Chokes our breathing.
Chokes Your Breathing,
All Earth is scorched by burning fossil fuels
And Carbon Pharaohs burn their way to faster wealth.
Earth can’t breathe and Your Name rattles in our throats.

IV. A Prayer and a Response

You Who are the Breath of Life,
At Sinai You taught us,
Not to take My Name with an empty heart.
Not to breathe My Name with empty Spirit.
Every breath we take
is Itself Your Name,
Part of that great Breath that is the Holy One.
You Who are the Breath of Life,
Heal us to breathe.

I Speak
I Who free you from choking
In the Tight and Narrow Place:
I Who send you Broad Spaces
Where My breath,
My wind, blows free:
No one shall rob you of My Name,
My Breath, My Holy Spirit.
Embody Me!

“Who Can’t Breathe? Three Outcries and a Prayer” by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (2021) was first published on the website of the Shalom Center on 20 April 2021. The prayer is an extension of his prayer “I can’t breathe, we can’t breathe, Earth can’t breath” first published by Arthur Waskow on 27 July 2020.




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