Friday, July 25, 2003

In the Desert - Thoughts from a Conference Workshop on a Haggadah for Survivors

One of the amazing workshops I attended at the conference discussed (and then shared) a Passover Haggadah for survivors of Relationship Violence. A Journey towards Freedom: A Haggadah for Women Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence is an incredible piece of work, one which interwove survivor's stories and writings into a journey from slavery to freedom. Part of the workshop was to engage in on of their writing workshop exercises.

Specifically, this writing exercise was titled "Every Journey Brings Blessings: Creating Our Own Blessings Along the Journey" and opened with the following quotation from Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's book Honey from the Rock - "The wilderness is not just a desert thorough which we wandered for forty years. It is a way of being. Even if just for a moment every now and then each day."
The directions were to write about the journey through the desert, answering the following the statments:
1) Where do you find sustenance when you are in the desert?
2) What does it mean to you to be part of a community wandering in the desert rather than wandering alone?
3) Write a blessing for wandering.

I encourage you to engage in the above activities yourself (the time given was 10 minutes).

Here is what I wrote as part of this activity, combining elements 1-3 into one poem.

"Sustenance in the desert.
Nurtured in a place which seems to be devoid of help.
Yet, I lift my eyes.

I reach out toward hope, toward friends, toward God and there. . .
There in the preciousness of presence with another,
There in the gift of listening,
There, dwelling with earth, air, heat, animals people and Shechinah,
Is courage, support, hope.

Arms to hold me up, giving me strength.
Smiles, nods to warm my heart and help me know that
even in the desert I am not alone.

Nevarech et ein ha-chayyim,
v'cho t'varech
Let us bless the source of life,
for so we are blessed,
Grateful for finding strength, hope, courage and life
Ba-makom, in this place,
Eem ha-Makom, with the One who sustains us."

May you too feel courage, support and hope on your way through the desert.
Your sister survivor with wishes for a Shabbat Shalom, a sabbat of peace and wholeness,

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