A Morning’s Prayerful Journey from Pity to Power

Subtitle: Then…


I awoke this morning thinking of my fellow human family members, some known to me, most not, who are sick and dying, who are hungry and homeless, who suffer the ravages of war and weather. I felt helpless to do anything to make anything better. In this, I – not yet sick or dying, hungry or homeless, a casualty of war or weather – recognized my self-indulgence in harboring this feeling of helplessness.

Then I prayed this psalm: When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy…Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.[1]

The people Israel, captive in Babylon, cry for emancipation. I sense their anticipation. For they sing in the past tense. “We were like those who dream” can be translated from the Hebrew “we became like the sands of the sea”[2] – an allusion to the former Exodus-experience when the Israelites, freed from Egyptian slavery, passed through the parted sea. The people, again captive, dreamed of refreshment: “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negeb.”

Then I thought that there are some, many who only can dream. Who bear little hope of awakening from sleep to a vision made real. Who cannot pray for fortune’s restoration, for they’ve never known abundance.

Then I was thrown back again on my self-pitying heap of helplessness.

Then a memory stirred. A moment, a decade ago, I heard Partners, Rabbi Marc Gellman’s[3] midrash[4] on the Genesis Creation Story.

The gist of Rabbi Gellman’s perspective: In the beginning, creation was messy. Angels encourage God to tidy it up. At successive stages, the angels deem it neater, yet wonder whether it’s finished. At each turn, God replies, “Nope.” Finally, God, fatigued, tells man and woman to complete the creation. They, too small for the task, protest they cannot. God suggests they become partners: “To be a partner means you can’t give up, even on days I don’t think you’re doing enough or you don’t think I’m doing enough, because your partner is depending on you.” Again, the angels ask if the world is finished. God replies, “I don’t know. Ask my partners.”

Then I realized afresh that, yes, there is much I never can do, yet I, with what I have, always am to do what I can, when I can, where I can, and for whom I can.

© 2022 PRA

#partnershipwithGod #fromhelplessnesstohopefulness

[1] Psalm 126.1-2a, 4

[2] See Mitchell Dahood’s Psalms 101-150 (The Anchor Bible: Doubleday & Company, Inc.), p. 218.

[3] Marc Gellman, writer and author, academician and teacher, is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah, Melville, New York.

[4] A midrash, like a parable, is a Jewish teaching application that employs a story to provide detail and application to scripture.

4 thoughts on “A Morning’s Prayerful Journey from Pity to Power

  1. THIS.
    The first thing I did this morning was print out this blog post and pray the Psalm and midrash you so brilliantly wove into this post! Helplessness is often a feeling I can’t shake with all going on in this world!! Your words were a refreshing reminder for me too that we can only do what we can do, AND that those we are able to help feel from us at that moment the abundance we are able to give them! Amen!!



    1. What a wondrously grand post, as you would say, my dear Loretta, “on so many levels!”

      This was…is so exceedingly poignant and powerful… “I didn’t really feel the cold because seeing and hearing the rush of the part of the flowing water that wasn’t frozen gave me life! It struck me that part of me had felt frozen since Mom’s death yet there I stood watching the rest of water flow freely from that waterfall as if Mom was holding my hand while allowing me to flow freely through the rest of my life without her! I was smiling so broadly I thought my face would freeze with that expression on it, and yet my tears flowed freely too!”

      AND I recall Karen and you writing about your mothers’ hands. So vibrant soulful a memory for each and both of you — and, now, for me, too!

      AND for Karen’s LEGO build to touch your heart, as you write, “I knew I had come to the right place, and had begun to process my grief more clearly from a model I hadn’t even built!”, this was one of those moments in time that bears the light of eternity!

      I am glad and grateful for you, for Karen, Ted, Emilia, for your time together, and for Kris! My eyes, as that flowing water you witnessed and reflected in your own tears, are awash with wondrously happy weeping!

      Love you

      Liked by 1 person

  2. THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH Paul!! It was definitely the grandest of trips!! Life changing actually!! They took me to so many amazing places to eat I’ve promised to try one new restaurant a month!! Before they dropped me at the airport yesterday I had a beet, cheese and hummus sandwich that was one of the best of my life!! There was a LOT of weeping to go around for sure!!

    I want to once again thank you for introducing me to Karen and her family!! Best connection EVER!!

    Much love!!


  3. My dearest Loretta, I am not sure how my response to your grand post ended up on as a reply to my post. BUT, then again, you know that I’m a techno-dummy! Nevertheless, again, I have this opportunity to share with you my thanksgiving unto God that you and Karen, Ted, and Emilia enjoyed the richness (the richest!) of relationship! Love


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