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Monday, August 31, 2015

Elul 17 - Recognition - by Rabbi Andrea Goldstein

"Recognition" by Daron Larson

It is so difficult to see this flower *
because the countless others
we’ve seen before
cloud the view,
along with how we expect it to look
and how it might be improved.

Even the faces of the ones we love deeply
hide like buried treasure
behind histories of expression.

In order to see
what is right in front of our eyes,
we first have to recognize
we have gradually
become blind,
and then begin
the slow work of forgetting.

*Substitute with any noun: beach, stone, bird, soap bubble, house, grandmother, beef stew, homeless person, celebrity, potato, dollar bill, construction worker, politician, drug addict, child, teacher, report card, mail order catalogue, boss, swimming pool, dog, towel, onion, computer, neighbor, planet, pine cone, cigarette, airplane, spam subject, fork, mountain, etc.

I have always loved this poem by Daron Larson. 
To me, it represents the essence of the work of Elul, because during these days of Return we struggle to see ourselves as we are. 
We struggle to see all the incredible beauty, as well as honest flaws. 

It is easy to lean too far in one direction and look through the lens of incessant critiques that tell us we will never be good enough, smart enough, talented enough, just enough.  It is also easy to overlook the times we have gone astray or laid too low in our apathy. 

To see ourselves (and others) as we really are, in this moment, is difficult and precious and rare. 
To meet ourselves (and others) as we really are, with compassion, is a blessing. 
To forgive ourselves (and others) is brave.
To see ourselves (and others) as we really are, is holy.
Seeing is the beginning of the holy work of Elul.

Rabbi Andrea Goldstein

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