Zecher le’aggadah – Memory and dispossession of the dream

My stream of consciousness on these days as I listened to this song walking through London:

There are some days when we feel like outsiders. For me, Yom Hazikaron is one of those days in Israel. I’ll never fit in and because of that I’ll never truly grasp the magnitude of the experience of remembrance and independence.

I have friends who serve and served in the army. I know of bereaved families – grief which is not discerning of ethnicity or religion – families of Israelis, Palestinians, Druze, Bedouin, Christians, Jews, Muslims. Grief has left its mark, our memories are filled with pain.

But it’s not my lived experience. Please God let it not be more people’s lived experience. Whether in Israel or in the UK, I am in exile. It is impossible to grasp the deep symbolism – of course I know grief and have seen and worked with people in grief. But the thing about these days is that it is a grief experienced on societal, cultural and state level. It is the grief accompanied by knowing the loss is not just a loss for those left behind but a loss to your people, because of your people. Yes, I understand and experience the emotion and yes, I have a profound sense of being part of Am Yisrael (the people of Israel), of being a human being, but it will never be the same. I am in exile.

Somehow I have got to overcome this. Listening to Israeli radio the world is immersed on this day into a mournful remembrance  – a remembrance of loved ones, of love, of vision and of dreams.

The book of Job, amongst all the other incredible works of biblical literature is one of the hardest to penetrate. Complex words, complex ideas and poetry. Yet, it has a profound message about grief, about loss and about belief. At its heart, we learn that grief is universal, that it is lonely and devastating, that it is a process and that we can come through it. None of us possesses grief. Grief exiles us all from ourselves and our community.

No one owns grief. It is not something that can be claimed as territory may be claimed.
It is not a tallit grasped between two claimants.
It is not a land inhabited.
It is not dispossessed.
Grief wrenches us from within the bosom of our community and spews us out.
I mourn from my exile for my loss.
You mourn for your loss
We mourn in the midst of alienation.
I mourn for you.
We are silent and crave the still small voice.

If the world of things can be possessed, owned and claimed to be mine and not yours – there is no possibility for you and me to stand on the same spot, for you to see the world from where I see it. That is the world of things. The world of feelings, of torn, destruction and the world of elation and exhultation is one we cannot dispossess. It is mine, it is yours. We are other, yet we can share.

This is the world of emotion and the world of time. We can share moments and we can mark time. My time can be marked by me, even with you. I can build my great cathedral, set apart in holiness. And just as we can in our wildest dreams share these seasons, we also cannot be dispossessed of them. Time is beholden to no-one and the sanctification of it lies in our hands – the appointed times which we shall proclaim. This moments is ours – all of ours.

This is a time for remembrance of loved ones, of love and of our vision. It is not easy to remember our loved ones, the pain tears at our heart. It is not easy to remember our vision – it is buried beneath the sodden earth of cynicism, of ego, of bigotry, hatred and shattered dreams. What happened to our dream, to the aggadah? Do we any longer hold fast to a vision of redemption for ourselves that is tied only to the redemption of humankind? Do we believe in redemption? Has the vision been destroyed, leaving just an echo of its memory in our hearts?

It is time for us to speak again of the future. A future not of threat, of hate and of war. It is time to speak of a future beyond this time in which we find ourselves experiencing unimaginable difficulties. We must dream again. The dream of our future, our shared future of space and things, of feelings and time, and the dream of the world’s future. Our hope.

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