Sunday, October 22, 2017

Under the Huppah...

It's Our 11th Wedding Anniversary
Maude & Bob--October 21, 2006
Beth Israel Worship Center
Photo by Patricia Ley

Israel Pilgrimage—2006

There was a grass-roofed shelter
along the Sea of Galilee
which reminded me of a succah
which reminded me of God’s covering over me
which reminded me of the blue and white tallit
I bought yesterday in Tiberias

Once I read an article in The Record
that stated being wrapped in a tallit
is like getting a hug from God
a statement that made me yearn
for a prayer shawl of my own
The very day after the article appeared
Rabbi Jonathan revealed
the newly designed Mizoram tallit to our congregation
with its colorful “Lamb within a Star of David” logo
representing Yeshua, our Jewish Messiah—
I gasped, when I saw it, assuming
one would be mine, my tallit, my hug from God
however, they were only presented to the pastors

which brings me to my marriage to Bob
just sixteen days ago
and that Pastor Steven graciously offered
to lend us his tallit to use as our wedding canopy
He gave us his traditional blue and white striped shawl
but Rabbi Jonathan said we would need a larger one
so Pastor Steven lent us his personal Mizoram tallit—
the very shawl that caused me to gasp, so long ago

Four ministers held up the corners of the prayer shawl
creating a fringed huppah over our heads
So, Bob and I stood under the covering of the Lamb
as we exchanged our marriage vows

At the conclusion of the ceremony
Rabbi Jonathan draped the shawl over our shoulders
wrapping us in a Heavenly hug on our holy wedding day

Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let's Take a Walk in the Woods...

Photo credit:

I meander through woods
along a beaten pathway in North Jersey
and the music begins immediately

There’s chittering of crickets
and the cacophony of other insects
that are hanging on to life
until the frost, which will come soon
Leaves rustle in the trees
some whoosh past me
as they fall to the ground
and there’s a crunch
of dry ones beneath my feet

I hear an occasional snap of a twig
and the scamper of squirrels
or chipmunks, a raccoon 
or field mice scurrying unseen
up and down tree trunks
or frolicking in the dense brush

There may be hidden deer or a bear
Some sounds I cannot identify

Birdsong completely fills the air
all kinds of birdsong—
chirps and coos
and warbles and squawks
I even hear the flutter
of wing flaps

Tying everything together
is the faintest whistling in the breeze
that feels something like tinnitus
ringing in my ears
but it’s not unpleasant

All the sounds blend together
into Nature’s symphony—
a serenade to my spirit
as I stroll

Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Mount Arbel in the Moonlight"

Photo credit:

Israel Pilgrimage--2006

Traveling in the tour bus from Tel Aviv
we arrive at the base of Mount Arbel
before twilight turns to dusk

The prudent would
postpone this venture
till daybreak, but
the zealous are rarely prudent

so seventy of us
imprudent zealous pilgrims
hastily begin an uphill trek
dodging rocky obstacles
Sprightly pilgrim feet
shuffle, sprint and stumble
up the mount
right to the cliff edge
at the pinnacle

The last vestiges of twilight
reveal the Galilee
flowing below us, darkly
like a great well of ink
Thousands of twinkling pin-lights
emanate from across the lake
…the city of Tiberius

The full moon
makes shadows of us all
as our guide teaches
and our rabbi ministers

We sing
O how we sing—

We are standing
on holy ground and we know
that there are angels all around…

and song after song of praise
unconcerned about hour or nightfall

Our exhilarated spirits mellow
and we lapse into solemn silence
except for muffled adoration
by a few and gentle weeping
by those bearing weighty burdens

then one by one
we make our way
down the steep, stony path
as God’s great October orb
casts a holy beacon
upon what otherwise would be
a treacherous, dark descent

Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"The Labyrinth"


Written at a poetry retreat led by Laura Boss and Maria Mazzioti Gillan

Mendham, New Jersey, October, 2001

It was free time during an intensive
weekend poetry retreat
I strolled the convent grounds
that warmish autumn day
to clear my head
of so many words and phrases
so many raging poems
about the World Trade Center
so many poems sprung from wounds
from love and death

I smiled at the sight of a nun
wearing a black and white habit
that grazed the russet ground
as she gracefully raked leaves
in a wide open field

“Sister,” I called
“you have quite a job there!”

She answered, but
not hearing her reply
I left the path
and approached her
She was Sister Julia, a novice
named for a thirteen-year-old martyr

Sister Julia was clearing leaves
from a circular brick-in-grass labyrinth
She told me what I hadn’t known
that a labyrinth isn’t a maze
but a unicursal
one path that leads to the center
and out again
She called it Chemin de Jerusalem[1]
a substitute for pilgrimage

I continued my journey
to the old cemetery
with its weather-beaten cement crosses
and to a nearly dry, leaf-strewn pond
then returned, because I had to
to the labyrinth

Entering, my spirit revitalized
as I stepped slowly within the bricks
joyfully reciting snippets
from Davidic, “Songs of Ascents”
and offering hymns and hallelujahs
At center, aliyah!

“My feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem”

and recalled, sweet as honey
so many years ago
when they actually were

I could almost hear the sound
of a distant shofar

Maude Carolan

[1] Road of Jerusalem