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Plant your feet firmly on the ground, your head
held high as though by a string.
Listen to the red-winged blackbirds, the spring frogs.
There is an aquifer in your heart: send a dipper down.
What have you drawn forth? Send it
out of this room like waves of song.
Float it around the Hairpin Turn, along
the old Mohawk Trail. Direct it toward the rising sun.
Our hearts are in the east though we are in the west.
Blanket the wounded city with melody.
Sing to the runners with aching hamstrings
to the bewildered families who lined the marathon route
to the children who are trying to make sense
to the adults who are trying to make sense
to the EMTs and policemen who ran
not away from the suffering, but into the fire
sing to the grieving families, here and everywhere.
Inhale again, reach into your well:
is there light even for the twisted soul of the bomber?
Now sing to yourself, sluice your own wounds.
We are loved by an unending love.
Listen to the birds again, and remember.
I wrote this a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing. It arose out of a meditation service which I led at my synagogue. The doors to our sanctuary were open, so we had the sounds of the nearby wetland in our ears, and I invited the meditators to join me in cultivating compassion and sending it toward Boston.
The line “My heart is in the east and I am in the west” is adapted from the medieval Spanish poet Judah haLevi.
Alternating stanzas of the poem are italicized to facilitate reading the poem as a responsive reading. Please feel free to use this however is meaningful to you, and to share it with others.
To those for whom it is meaningful, I wish a Shabbat shalom, a Shabbat of peace and healing.
[This prayer was first published on Rabbi Barenblat’s blog, Velveteen Rabbi, here.]
“Prayer After the Bombing in Boston, by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (2013)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
A Prayer for Pittsburgh [after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre], by Rabbi Menachem Creditor (2018)
תפילה לארצות הברית לאחר הטבח בפּיטסבּורג | Prayer for the United States after the Pittsburgh Massacre, by Rabbi Stephen Belsky (2018)
אֵלֶּה אֶזְכְּרָה, נוּסַח פִּיטְסְבּוּרְג | Eileh Ezkarah for Pittsburgh, by Rabbi Jonathan Perlman with Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum & Rabbi Martin Cohen (2019)
Gratitude Prayer, by Rabbi Menachem Creditor on the first anniversary of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life massacre (2019)
Prayer for Peace in Israel, by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (Office of the Chief Rabbi of the UK & the Commonwealth, 2003)
תְּפִלָּה לְהַצָּלָה מִפִּגּוּעֵי טֶרוֹר | Prayer for Rescue from Terror Attacks | Bön om skydd från terrorhot, by R’ Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli (2014)
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