"It is art that helps us make sense of the world's chaos and disorder (better than science or logic). What is art good for? It is good for nothing. Art is good life itself!" (quotation found in the art room at Pendle Hill Quaker Retreat Center)
The bad news keeps coming... shooting in a newsroom in Annapolis... children taken from their parents as they enter our country seeking safety... the Supreme Court upholding the Muslim ban... and on and on. We're entering the heat of summer, and in the Jewish calendar, the Three Weeks, the period for communal mourning that commemorates the journey from the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem to the destruction of the Temple. This is a time to slow down, to allow ourselves to feel our pain for our world, for our fellow human beings who are terrorized and homeless and suffering, and for our common future. The Three Weeks, also known as bein hametzarim (in the narrow places), begins Sunday, July 1, 2018, with the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day (dawn to dusk).
Feeling our grief and pain, however hard it is to do, is what keeps us out of despair and opens us to clarity, compassion, and courage. Avoiding our pain leads us to numbness.
Join me in embracing these three weeks as a time to engage our grief through creativity. I invite you to keep a grief journal or explore grief through another creative medium, such as poetry, chant, collage, drawing, painting, or dance. Devote time, even if just a few minutes each day, to creatively explore the following questions:
1. What news stories arouse my sadness and outrage?
2. What am I personally most fearful about? When I let myself consider the worst case scenario, what arises?
3. What does the Temple represent for me at this time? What is at stake to be lost with the destruction of the Temple? What values and institutions do I hold dear whose walls have been breached?
4. In reading the haftarah of admonition/rebuke for each of the Three Weeks, what phrases speak to me? (These can serve as writing prompts or inspiration for creative expression)
1) Jeremiah 1:1–2:3
2) Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1–2
3) Isaiah 1:1–1:27 (Read on Shabbat Hazon)
This blog post can also be found on RitualWell, a wonderful website for sharing creative rituals, sponsored by Reconstructing Judaism. I plan to be writing and drawing to move through my grief over this next three weeks and I'd love for us to share our our creative expressions of grief. One way to do so is by submitting it to Ritualwell (or if you'd like to share what you create and are not ready to go public, you're welcome to send it to me through the contact page).