Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Psalm 23

Each summer the kids go off to camp. They make new friends, deepen old friendships, learn more Hebrew and come home singing. Like all the way home, 5 hrs of driving, they sing. Their voices harmonize that familial way and they sing. The radio is off. They have their own music in their souls, waiting to burst forth.

One of their favourites is a rendition of Psalm 23. One of their camp directors even sang it at Zemy's Bat Mitzvah.

It became one of my songs as I traveled through Poland to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Jedwabne, Krakow, and Warsaw. Through Germany: Nuremburg, Dachau, Munich, Berlin... Through Austria: Vienna, Linz, Mauthausen. 
In places that felt dark, I would sing. Whenever fear, irrational old, past generational fear, came sneaking up, making my pulse quicken and my breathing slow, I would sing Psalm 23.

There is a line in both the scripture and the song: "You prepare a table in the presence of my foes." 

I admit it, I have thought about that table. A large stretched out table in a lush green field, covered with a feast that puts Thanksgiving banquets to shame. 
I thought about that table in a prideful and almost arrogant manner. "You, my enemy, you will see me lifted up and feasting at that table."



But, in those trips to death camps, with the voices of my children echoing in my heart, the meaning changed. The table stopped being a place to gloat. 

You, my G-d, prepare the table. It is Your bounty not mine.
You make this in the presence of those who are called my enemies, those who would hate and kill me. 
You do this because WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE ENEMIES ANY LONGER! in You we can find peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. We can stop seeing ourselves and our own hurt and see each other.
We can sit at the table together!

There is something about eating together.  Not formal banquets. Family meals. I told a room full of how many? 100, 200? German Christians this year, in Munich, that I was not very good at banquets, but we were very good at family meals, and invited them to feast with us at that Passover Seder meal. It was amazing. As we ate together and prayed together, we SAW each other. Walls crumbled. There were tears, they begged us to forgive what their families, their nation had done. Those in the room who were Jewish asked for forgiveness for only seeing he Jewish pain of the Holocaust, and we were able to sing with eachother in English, in German and in Hebrew. 

He prepared a table. Enemies were made friends and my cup overflowed, over flowed! There is no place for pride when love fills up the room.  

He prepares a table, in the presence if my foes, he anoints my head, and my cup it overflows, and surely I will dwell in the house of the L-rd, forever.
(Paraphrase)

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