Sunday, June 23, 2013

Megilla Project, Eicha - What to Think?

About a week into my Eicha project, and already the process is entirely different from that of Kohelet. Then again, the situation surrounding it is different as well. And new sorts of verses stand out to me.

Today, I finished the paper cut portion of the project, and started the ink-written text. I was feeling frustrated at the moment, and resolved to vent said frustration into the paper.

As during Kohelet, frustration stemmed from disappointment. But whereas Kohelet's was toward what others were doing and saying (or not doing and saying), Eicha's was aimed at myself, and at the impossible questions of the future.

It was aimed at myself because I had made a mistake. Nothing intentional or even hurtful, just inconsiderate in the moment. I was distracted. I wasn't thinking. I was also, admittedly, a little tired and tense. And so I was shocked when my mistake got called out. I hadn't even noticed that I'd done anything wrong. Naturally, I was embarrassed and felt guilty. I added a garbled "sorry," along with assurance that I hadn't meant to do anything wrong, and would make sure not to in the future. The subject was soon changed to something more titillating, like internet cats.

It was aimed at the future because once again, I am finding myself at a crossroads of sorts. I will be moving somewhere new soon, and hopefully, HOPEFULLY starting a new job. I will be meeting new people and going new places. But I have no idea where, and the changes are proving slower than I'd like. My patience and confidence are tested.

And later today, while I was writing Eicha's text, the feeling returned. As I hit the second chapter of Lamentations, I recognized a certain verse from what I had grown up knowing as a Carlebach tune.

"שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ, נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֲדֹנָי"

"Pour out your heart like water before the face of G-d." Before now, I hadn't really connected this verse to anything especially tragic. It was just telling me that if something was wrong, I should tell G-d about it. And I started wondering about times when I have poured out my heart like water to my room's ceiling, since when I talk to G-d I instinctively raise my eyes.

I'm a spiritual and religious person. I talk to G-d, usually in English, sometimes in Hebrew, and occasionally even in Hungarian. I'm unsure why I do this in the way I do, since a debate always runs in my mind of whether my asking questions will ever result in answers. At the very least, it must be therapeutic to ask questions even when they're rhetorical. At times, though, I could swear someone is listening and taking some kind of karmic note. All I know is that I pray.

Eicha is Lamentation following ultimate tragedy. Horrific events and an aftermath from hell all reside in its text. Children die of hunger. Young men are slaughtered. The streets run with blood. And yet, as I mentioned before, I find less despair here than in Kohelet, where one man, presumably a rich king, reflects on the pointlessness of existence.

In Eicha, we cry out to G-d and ask why our Temple was destroyed. We ask the Divine to step in and save us. We ask why the Presence has left our side. We did wrong, and we feel terrible. We want the feelings of guilt and sadness to leave. But at least we cry out. At least we ask the questions and don't pretend to know any answers. At least we haven't reached any despairing conclusions.

I've found that this is the silver lining to my self-disappointment. I am still shocked and upset when I or someone close to me does something hurtful. I think it would be a lot worse if I just accepted them as the way things are. I'm disappointed, and so next time, I'll do better. Next time, I'll point it out if others err toward me, and change things so that there will be improvement.

I haven't accepted Kohelet's futility of life. I still believe in success after I've paid my dues. Which is why, behind the smoky text of tragic events on my Megilla, there there will be "Nachamu," comfort, hiding in the negative space.

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