Broken beings, or: Vessels

Poetry Partners #5

A haibun by Barbara Schaefer of ‘solitary 4 tomorrow’

love forlorn
regained freedom by an inch
growth beyond pride

I am reporting here on a complex and deep long-distance platonic love. I sought it and entered into it freely but ended up having to extricate myself very very carefully. While I thought I had escaped secrets and betrayal for good when I left my family of origin 45 years ago, here was someone who had been manipulated out of his beautiful soul as a young man in the name of RC priesthood. All said and done, including some swear words, there is only love in me, so deep. I wish I could bottle it. To use it everyday.

A haibun by ben Alexander of ‘The Skeptic’s Kaddish’

I experience a cutting irony in my citing ancient Jewish sources of wisdom, given that I don’t believe in an interventionalist God. Nevertheless, I’ve never been anything other than a proud Jew; and there is much for me in my people’s texts. Naturally, my interpretations are filtered through a modernist lens, as I aim to tease out universally relevant pearls of wisdom.

As such, I’d like to quote from the renowned source of Jewish mysticism called the Zohar (2:184 1:4), with translations from the original Aramaic into both modern Hebrew and modern American English below:

Hebrew Aramaic English
שֶׁאֵין אוֹר אֶלָּא אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹצֵא מִתּוֹךְ הַחֹשֶׁךְ דְּלֵית נְהוֹרָא אֶלָּא הַהוּא דְּנָפִיק מִגּוֹ חֲשׁוֹכָא There’s no light, other than that which comes out from inside the darkness

And this more recent gem:

Nothing is more whole than a broken heart.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787–1859)

As I see it, human beings inevitably hurt others. Nobody ever lives without causing pain. It’s a cost of being alive, but it is also to our collective and personal benefit as people, for only broken vessels can hope to contain love.

winter's thermal stress;
warm winds filling, flowing from
jagged lightning cracks

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

List of Poetry Partners

29 thoughts on “Broken beings, or: Vessels”

  1. Both poems are wonderful! Barbara’s and yours bring to mind the mending with gold as the Japanese practice of Kintsugi. Embracing the flaws and celebrating love in all forms – the first pouring love into a broken vessel and the second recognizing the brokenness of each of us as no impediment for loving… Thanks to both of you!!

  2. “There’s no light, other than that which comes out from inside the darkness”

    And this more recent gem:

    “Nothing is more whole than a broken heart.”

    Love these statements! ♥️♥️👆👆

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