Friday, October 24, 2014

Chaos, Kindness & The Flood of Garlic.




To write this, I wrote it five times -- and then a sixth.  It was still a mess.    

I printed it out and with my green pen I scratched out everything.   

Well, almost everything -- so I could start again.

I haven’t been able to think straight – too much on my mind.  I needed a little something.   

Then I woke this morning thinking of garlic.

If you use a little garlic it is amazing.  It adds that special something to everything you eat.  It is almost magical the way it transforms a dish.    

For some, garlic is their favorite thing.    Like water, they can't live without it.  It gives our food – depth.  It makes things interesting.  

But too much – indigestible.   It keeps vampires, friends and even lovers at a distance.
(although, I read once that it’s okay if you both have it….)

If you use too much garlic it masks the flavors of everything else.  It tastes like chaos.    Your senses became flooded – they are only aware of the garlic.

I haven’t been able to write because my brain is flooded.   I have a lot of worries – like my father and his mother before him, I am a worrier.  

There, I said it. 

You will probably tell me that I am irrational -- 

-- but it is my birthright.

I could make a list.  
In no particular order…
my broken pipe 
my patients.
the coming winter.
The Middle East
School shootings.
I have a bathtub in my doorway.  Don’t ask.
I worry that my house will not be organized.
That my house will not be clean.
That I won’t have time and energy to do it all.
  That I will forget my Italian
  That I will forget Hebrew.
That I will forget what I just said.

That I will forget what I just said.
Er...that I will forget what I just said.

  That I will use too much garlic.

   Strangely, I am not worried about the upcoming election.
   But I worry that I am eating too much salt -- too much sugar.
   I worry about gluten.

   I worry that I will say something to offend someone.

   Yes, it seems that I am very self-involved.   In fact, I worry that I am too self-involved.

   But I do worry about hunger.
   I worry about homelessness.   

I worry that I am worrying too much.  
Sometimes it is all – too much.    

I used to be a super straight thinker.   Now, it’s all a mess.

I am too much garlic.   Chaos.
I need whiskey.

There was another time when everything became a bit too much.    

God told Noah – build an ark.    Something big is coming.    A flood – a Mabul – is coming.
Mabul – chaos, confusion, cataclysm.  Deluge.  
Mess.

Way Back when God created the world, everything was in chaos.
When it was time to start to make a world, God made a list –   

(God was awesome at creating --  lists.)
one:    separate order from chaos.
two:    separate dark from light.
three:  more garlic.

Now, Chaos is returning.  
Winter is coming.

Back In the time of Noah,  God gave blessings freely. 

Blessings come down from heaven – in the same way that water is a blessing because it rains down from heaven. 
    
Oh how the blessings flowed!:    kosher dill pickles, pesto, hummus, moussaka, baba ganoush, chicken with 40 cloves of...garlic.)    
The blessings gave life depth.  Made life good.

But people took advantage.   They became selfish.  They gorged themselves.

They became violent – fighting over the pastrami.

And they didn’t even bother brushing their teeth.   

God was horrified at their behavior.
You like my blessings?  You like my garlic?  You like depth?
Sure, I’ll give you depth.   Go ahead and drown in it.

When it began, it was too much,    Flooding, chaos, confusion. 
DELUGE.  
The very same thing which had nourished us was now killing us.

Like the dish of an overambitious cook, everything was too much.
The world was drowning. 
  
It was as though God took out a big green pen and scratched out everything -- well, almost everything – to start again.

Chaos,  Noah.   There will be Chaos.    

And before those fragrant cloves begin to fall from the sky,   
Come into the ark.  Bring the animals, bring your family.

Bring Tums.

Build me this ark,  Noah, this teyva – this boat, this box.

It will be,  God says,  almost magical in the way it will transform you.  It will protect you.   I will protect you.   I will give you a taste of The World To Come.  

I will give you whiskey.

You will see how a lamb will be safe from a lion…
Where there will be no predators.
Where even people will not prey on each other -- for a corned beef sandwich –

Or even if only for the pickle.  

When there is chaos, when there is deluge, when there is too much worry, when things fall apart, when it is all much too much and when you are drowning -- it can house your souls and keep you safe.

When the world falls apart I will keep you safe.  
I will keep you safe.

Chaos and flood are not just about marinara sauce.
   It feels like chaos and flood when the waves of trouble in your life are rising – when you lose your job, your health, your safety and your home.

Grace, shelter, the ark are about saving us from the storm that will always come – no matter who you are and your place in life.

There is too much out there.   
There is too much to taste.  
Too much to stomach,
There is too much to feel.   

Man, we are under water.

Our senses are flooded.   Our hearts are flooded.   
We have too much to think about.
Too much to do.   

Too much to feel.
   
Too much worry.   
I could make a list!

You know what I need?   
I need an ark. 
  
I need a place which can shield me from the chaos.   
I need protection from confusion.   

I need protection from myself.

I need a place where I can begin again. 
  I need a place where I can think straight.
I need a place where I can be with my family.

Where no one fights over the food.

Into every life a little rain will fall.    
Most of the time a lot more than a little rain.

And sometimes a lot more than a little garlic. 
  
Sometimes there will be heartburn.

Sometimes there will be fire.   
There will always be illness & there will always be death.   

But it is ok – not to be ok.

We will need shelter.
  
We will need alka-seltzer. 
  
We will need an ark.  
We may need the Divine….
  
We will need a little whiskey.   

We may also need a green pen to scratch things out and start again.

We will need kindness.

And we will need each other.

(as delivered at Temple Beth El in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, October 24, 2014)