We are all living in a new reality. For some of us, we have been social distancing for weeks and are in some kind of new rhythm – routine may be too structured a word. We may still be getting used to the cycles of emotions present each day, to the reality of living 24/7 with members of our families or in solitude. We may be ill ourselves or worried about friends or family members. It’s different and new and hard for each of us.
In the spirit of recognition of the challenges each of us inevitably experiences, I want to share a poem that has spoken to me deeply these recent days.
“Stepping Out of the Body,” by Stuart Kestenbaum
Like someone stepping
from a pair of dirty overalls,
turned inside out on the bathroom floor
I step from my body.
Words spill out, a pocket full of
nearly, almost, close,rattling on the ground.
I rise up and I am eye to eye
with the ceramic insulators on the power lines.
They glisten and I can see
a fish eye reflection
of the stony landscape and worn blacktop.
I touch the wire
and the current passes through me.
I float above the trees
like children’s soap bubbles
on a spring day. Everyone I love
is below me. I see the tops of their heads
as they go about their business.
The school bus arrives
and swallows my children.
I am here about to join everything
the way bubbles burst
with a quiet pop, the tiny
strands of soap vanishing into the air.
There are souls all around me
pushing, pushing, there is the world
below me, caught by surprise in a spring storm.
There is the ocean embracing each rock.
I look down and can see
the inside of my skull,
the graffiti of dreams,
the rust of education.
Should I come back and inhabit this vehicle?
Under the sign at the Redemption Center
people are returning their bottles,
with the thin sour smell of beer and milk.
Do we re-use the vessel or do we
crush the can so it becomes something else.
Someone is embracing me
with both arms, whispering,
come home all is forgiven.
Am I coming or going?
Between this world
and the next all I can tell you is this:
Something is about to be born.
This poem has been so resonant to me, because the way we’re living now can feel so surreal, so beyond our experience of the world. How do we find wholeness during this time? Or maintain our own sense of self and identity?
The last lines of the poem “Between this world and the next all I can tell you is this: Something is about to be born”are a reminder that even in this time of great upheaval and anxiety, each of us is creating. That creating may be big or small, outside of ourselves or inside, but it is creation nonetheless.
In this spirit of “something is about to be born,” the Open Dor Project communities are constantly experimenting, creating content and connection, with the right tones of care and compassion. The Open Dor communities are doing this work through the clear lens of their own visions, and many are experiencing higher than usual demand. Below, you can read a sampling of their heartfelt creating.
Rabbi Ana Bonnheim
Director, Open Dor Project