Day 25/40


I just checked into ‘the heartbreak hotel’, far away from Graceland but maybe not that far  from grace. Been here before, may be here again, and, surprise, I am here now, disappointed and bitter and taking it one day at a time. Deep breaths. Deal now, heal later, and maybe figure out what the hell went wrong and what I can do to feel better and avoid this, if possible, from happening again. Is that even possible?


What’s astonishing about heartaches of all kinds is that they actually do hurt  more or less vicinity of the physical heart. I don’t know the medical data but I have no doubt that a great many of our physical ills –  including the high rate of heart attacks in the West – are deeply connected to our emotional dis-ease and reflect the hurts, and pains and disappointments that are part of our human diet and modern social reality.  So much loneliness and sadness and rage and quiet despair. 





With two days to go before the new year begins ( I know, GREAT timing) and this PREPENT process under way, my reflection today is on what hurts, and where, and maybe, why.
And here’s what to do with it:
Collect the hurting, the places of pain, list them, name them, thank them, own them – and ask for help in releasing them back into the world. Every pain is a scar – and scars don’t vanish – but with time, they hurt less. Nature helps out.


I don’t know who’s reading this but I’m pretty sure that being human means collecting scars of all sizes, and hurts of all kinds.


So to my friends who are reading this I want to suggest that we take comfort in knowing that we are all, in some way, hurting, and that there are, in some way, methods to help us get over it, get better and stronger.


And one of those ways is asking for help. I don’t just mean therapy or a friend with whom to confide, scream, cry and dream. Those are terribly important and I’m grateful for mine. I’m talking about talking with God. If there’s ever a time when a one on one conversation is due is when the poop hits the fan and we need answers or at least the excuse to melt down and belt out our woe and needs and pleads and highest hopes. It may just be a glorified and often cheaper form of therapy but I want to suggest that finding comfort in conversation with the unknowable creator with the specific focus of asking for help can be helpful. Not that it takes us off the hook – on the contrary. I take it on myself to do the work (which is what true love and relationship is always about anyway) and commit to being here, ready for the next attempt at love. But I’m not alone, and I can’t do it alone, and there is some force in the universe, call it what you want, that is in favor of things working out for the best and happiest and is a source of comfort. I think. Maybe. I hope so anyway.  One of my favorite lines from the psalms is GOD HEALS THE BROKEN HEARTED AND BINDS THEIR WOUNDS”. 



Perhaps it is just about the process of articulating our needs and fears and hurts and perhaps there is nobody out there listening and helping – but even that is a good start – the mere act of conversation, release. So with a heart aching I am getting more prepared for the prayers and liturgies and sweetness (which right now makes me want to vomit) of the holiday, taking stock of all that is hurting in my personal archive – determined to not wallow but move ahead, kinder, stronger, ready for more.


Poetry, the noble form of prayer, helps a lot too. Here’s one of my favorite heartache poems, by the grand lover of soul, Rumi:



The Guest House  

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.  

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.  

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.  

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.  

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent 

as a guide from beyond.





I'm on PBS's short list of NYC’s Hippest Rabbis for the High Holidays. Ha.


Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

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