Ketuvim: Trees

Melodies I weave, songs I sweetly sing;
Longing for your presence, to you I yearn to cling.

In the shade of trees I delight to dwell,
To grasp your mystery, captured by your spell.

I glorify you with words and song,
Declaring with my heart: for you I long.

When I can’t see you, I write your praises,
And though I don’t know you, I long for your places.

To the assembled birds and your branches speech,
You alluded to your wisdom that is sometimes beyond our reach.

The scope of your greatness and the marvel of your strength
Are reflected in your bark and described at great length.

They have painted you, but rarely as you are;
They draw your colors and portray you from afar.

They speak of you in poems in countless varied visions,
While you remain throughout all their renditions.

They try to portray you as one now young, now old,
With leaves now green, now red and turning gold.

Nothing is more precious among the earth’s good pleasures,
Than sitting against a tree, chief among forest treasures.

-adapted from “Hymn of glory” in Siddur Sim Shalom

Ketuvim 16

My adaptation of Psalm 16

Keep me, O Living Earth,
For in you I find refuge.
I said you are the source of life,
You are my mother,
And my happiness lies in you alone.

All my desire is to be among
Those who protect the land,
And those who respect it.
Sorrows increase
For those who disfigure your face.
Never will I follow their ways
And never will I trod their path.

Living Earth, my share of the heritage,
My cup,
It is you who keeps me secure.
The lines have fallen for me
In pleasant places;
A wonderful heritage is mine.

I will honor the Earth who has given me counsel,
Even at night my inner self instructs me.
I remember the bounty of the Earth always;
It sustains me with its abundance.
I cannot be shaken.

So my heart is glad
And my flesh rejoices;
Even my body shall rest in safety,
For you sustain me now,
And will embrace me in your arms at death.

You have shown me the path of life,
The fullness of joy in your presence.
Everlasting happiness
In the mists of your wonder and beauty.


Self project: Accountability

Recently I began to do a little bit of self evaluation and asked myself: What do I value? The first thing that came to mind was accountability. Saying that “accountability” is one of my values is a lie. It sounds nice but the truth is, rarely have I been held accountable for anything or taken responsibility for that matter.

When I was committing fraud against the state, my father bailed me out so I wouldn’t go to prison. In fact, I have committed fraud numerous times and every time, my father was there to pay all of it so I never had to see inside of a jail. My father is dead now and can’t bail me out anymore.

Every time I aggressed toward another person, “they MADE me mad”. When I stabbed a guy, “He deserved to be stabbed for what he did”. When I ran over people with my car, that was their fault too. When I destroyed property, threw things or screamed like a crazy person, I said it was their fault. They were either stupid, mean, or deserved it in some way. Still no accountability…or taking any responsibility for my often impulsive behaviors.

Then I thought about honesty. LOL Obviously, fraud is dishonest. But sometimes, I just make up things to tell people just to see how they will respond. For example, a coworker recently asked the whereabouts of one of my employees. It had been several weeks since they had been at work. I told the coworker that my employee was on vacation, traveling the world and was currently at the Great Wall of China. The truth was, I had no idea of the whereabouts of my employee. I assumed she had quit.

If you have ever heard of the term “shadow work”, then you know in a nutshell it is the thing that pisses you off the most about other people is the very aspect within yourself that you refuse to recognize. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be pissed off about how THEY behave. I fact check everything because I don’t believe anything anyone tells me. Why? Because I am dishonest a good bit of the time. In any case, now to the list of values I believe I possess. Learning, knowledge, curiosity, privacy, personal autonomy, independence, and solitude. All of these are self explanatory.

I used to try to convince myself and others that I valued accountability, responsibility, and honesty. We can say what we want but our actions speak louder than words and determine our worth.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my ex several years ago. At the time, my ex’s sister was in rehab…by force, not choice. She wasn’t exactly doing well in the program. My ex asked: “How can I help her? I feel so helpless.” I responded, “If you want to help her, be willing to meet her where she is right now, not where you want her to be.”

Pretty good advice for myself right now. I don’t have to be angry with myself anymore because I don’t possess accountability, responsibility or honesty. I no longer have to tell myself that I am worthless because I don’t possess these values. To be clear, this does not mean I will never take accountability for my actions. It means, I must be willing to meet myself where I am right now, not where I think I should be. That instead of fighting against what I hate about myself and beating myself up…and everyone else…I can use that weakness as an opportunity to begin taking accountability. Especially now that I know I have been failing to do these things. As my sponsor in Narcotics Anonymous used to tell me, admitting it is the first step.