how we plan to use our feet: the dinner at congregation mizpah

Torah Scrolls at Congregation Mizpah

i always hope i do not desecrate a holy place with my clumsy wonder.

we wander into the sanctuary, passing a statue of moses, a gift sculpted by an italian for this sanctuary. the horns, born of a mistranslation and mother of dangerous myth, are part of the casting, never to be shaven off. a wooden remembrance of the 6 Million lost is on the wall, outside the door. not quite cavalier and not quite mindful, we do not even lightly touch the pile of yarmulkes waiting for yet another nightfall.

advent has begun and the christians among us are bellyfull of dreams of light, so it is not unusual that we note the inscription above the torah scrolls.

let there be light.

the door is opened. the torah revealed in this bible-belt town. light for the gentiles among us.

it is not exactly a shared word we speak; we are horrible at ancient languages and only slightly better at nuance, but we are experts at our own metaphors.

except when we forget that they are metaphors.

We sit at a table.

over a dinner of sandwiches, the elder among us mentions the good work that we have all done together, and not just us. he mentions

the twelve who are not here tonight.

he means the others who had other engagements and commitments. but i hear him name elijah.

he throws out that number–twelve–loosely, i suppose, to name our present strength as a group. to point to our future.

but i hear him name disciples. and i suppose others hear him name tribes.

we share laughter and dream dreams. we remember forbears who “prayed with their feet.” we name the stories we share. some of us pick off the pickles from our sandwiches. we pass the cookie tray.

how we pray for peace. how we plan to use our feet.

we are not clumsy with one another.

gratitude, congratulations, and good wishes are shared at the end. more laughter. more hopes. a few questions. calendars and dates are passed around, more quickly than the cookies.

in the quiet of the parking lot, there is for me, one last word.

a benediction, a prayer, a hope, a breath, a memory, one clumsy stolen metaphor more, an echo, (elijah himself?), one last question–

tonight was different from the other nights.
what has made it so?


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