Park Slope Rabbi’s Meditation on the Loss of His Mother
When I think about the meaning of blogging, I think about blogs like Water Over Rocks, written by Rabbi Andy Bachman (of Congregation Beth Elohim) since 2005 or so.
Through his blog, Bachman gives his community, his congregation, his national and international readers access to his observations, his emotions and his spiritual life in a very thoughtful and profound way.
On July 22, Rabbi Bachman’s mother Barbara died and the rabbi wrote a beautiful tribute to her. Perhaps his words resonated with me, in part, because he presided over the funeral of my father in September 2008 and I feel for him as he goes through the loss of his mother and strives to articulate what he is experiencing.
Nourishing Mother: Says to a son eager to learn, “Follow your instinct with your reading–it’s the most fun.” Loves to quote David Letterman’s latest pranks. Wants to hear, ad nauseam/ad infinitum, my adventures from high school and college when skirting trouble was sport. My friends were like other sons to her. One visited her last week and made her smile by teasing her about her hair.
Nourishing Mother: Who taught me to pray in childhood’s bedtime mystery and darkness, instinctively offering the promise of a loving world beyond fear. Whose own struggles with Faith left her at the end of her life with more questions than answers, a comforting idea in today’s world of dangerous certainties. A woman of valor who “looks for wool and flax and sets her hand to them with a will…she gives generously to the poor, her hands are stretched out to the needy.”
Today on his blog he shares his thoughts about this most profound transition with a meditation on gratitude that touches on the appreciation he feels for family and friends, psychoanalysis, D.W. Winnicott, Alison Bechdel and the rituals of Jewish life when dealing with loss.
There’s so much to say, so much to write. No one can really close out a person’s life so easily.
Yesterday afternoon, when it was clear that the seven days of Shiva were drawing to an end, I was watching guests talk to one another in my living room, my mind drifted away, and I had an image of myself floating down a river, its alluvial banks a deep, muddy comfort; its current steady and inexorable. This is Jewish Law, I said to myself. Submission to a structure beyond the Self.