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Years May Come, Years May Go

This morning, when I was remembering the victims of the Holocaust and praying for their eternal rest, the strangest thing happened to me.  Well, not the strangest thing, since I tend to free associate during my private prayers.  But it was strange enough that–after I finished my prayers–I decided to reconstruct my thought process. I wanted to figure out how I had gotten from Holocaust remembrance to the Irish Rovers.

My prayers went something like this:

I was reading Stephen Mitchell’s adaptation of Psalm 90 when I arrived at one of my favorite biblical verses: “Teach us how short our time is; let us know it in the depths of our souls.”  I felt tears stinging at the back of my eyes, but that wasn’t strange at all.  This often happens when I read Psalms, especially Psalm 90.

I thought about my mantra of middle age. Time really is going by more quickly now.

Then I thought about where I was last year on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I was finishing up revisions of a reflection that I had written after hearing Arnold Whitaker’s address to the Walton High School sophomore class.

My thoughts strayed from the Walton High School auditorium–where I had been sitting next to my then-sixteen-year-old daughter–to our apartment in Riverdale.  It was what the Real Estate agents called a Junior 4. Her bedroom was a small alcove off the kitchen that had been converted into the fourth room in the apartment. She was fussy in the evenings and never wanted to go to bed.  At nap times, the babysitter used to sing lullabies, songs that had traveled across an ocean from her native Ireland to my native New York City.  I sang Yiddish lullabies and, when they didn’t do the trick, I would play the Irish Rovers CD and sing along softly as we danced slowly around the apartment.

My arms began to ache from the memory, although they held only a thin volume of Psalms.

This is how my prayers to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust became a mash-up of Psalm 90 and an Irish lullaby:

“Show us how precious each day is; teach us to be fully here.”

“Some heartaches I don’t doubt,
life’s sure to dish us out.
We’ll beat the lot and that is what
life’s all about.
Whatever may come true,
ahead for me and you –
Some day it all will be
Memories.”

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