Thursday, June 8, 2017

Praying to the One Who Blesses

In the last weeks of Dad's life, I wanted to go and sing him a prayer I had learned in the synagogue, a healing prayer called the Misheberach.

Unfortunately, he passed away before I could get to him and the news that he was hours from death wiped out the idea of singing it to him over the phone, whether or not he could hear me. 

It became a prayer that I prayed for my dad as I tried to keep vigil halfway around the world. It became a prayer for me as I grieved. I had a notion of singing it at Dad's funeral as a healing prayer for others, but there were already so many sticking their oar in and I also knew myself well enough that it would not be a day that I could sing anything.

The first word of the prayer means "the One who blesses". The tune I learned was by Debbie Friedman and it is a mix of Hebrew and English.

You may be wondering why I didn't cling to the Lord's Prayer or some other Christian mantra. The words have been a source of comfort and an expression of grief. That it comes from another tradition are completely irrelevant. The words in English had a great deal to do with it too:
May the Source of strength, who blessed the ones before us Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing And let us say: Amen.
Bless all in need of healing, with r'fuah shleimah**:
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit,
And let us say: Amen.
The celebrant at Dad's funeral talked about how coming together as a community to mourn someone can be a life-changing experience. For him, it ultimately meant a move from Scotland to Australia. Similarly, I find the words "help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing" a similar impetus to re-center my life. Something to gnaw on and discern in the days ahead.

** r'fuah shleimah means complete recovery (from a page that I read about this song)

Debbie Friedman sings the song below:







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