• Joia

Today’s rhaps is on … ChristSophia

Updated: 5 days ago

From the Deesis Mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

I wrote the final stanza today after listening to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who passed away last week (author of The Dignity of Difference)—how the Pharaoh's daughter saved a doomed Hebrew baby, how "I Am that I Am" was mistranslated and should rather have been "I Will Be Who or How or Where I Will Be," revealing how God surprises us by speaking through strangers. I had quoted this in stanza V on clearing The Temple and felt immense delight with the new translation! The Rabbi also spoke of Hamas terrorists who have become peace activists, MLK quoting Isaiah 40 "He's allowed me to go up to the mountain...and I've seen the Promised Land" and finally his own affirmation that "The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of othes, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering a genesis of hope." May we live our differences with dignity.



In the Beginning was the Man

and the Man was with Woman

and the Man said

“It is good!”

and the man grimaced in pleasure

swimming in the warmth

of skin and hair

and said

“It is finished!”


In the Garden was the Woman

bent with pain

bleeding forth a child

who grimaced in displeasure

at the sudden exile

from warmth and darkness

and clung to the Woman

the Way, the Truth and the Light.


In the Desert was the Man desperate with thirst

thrusting toward the warm red sea

parting the tender waves

unaware of what, in that moment


a tiny swimming soul

pulsating with generations of men.

Upon awakening, “Forgive me!”

he cries, finding a small stranger

in his place.


In the Market was the Woman

bent with worry

counting out the coins.

Reaching to feed, caress, anoint

the insatiable child,

covering the child with her hair and tears.

Performing the daily magic

she turned sorrow to a child’s joy,

tepid water into warm wine.


In the Temple was the Man

“I Am!” he said

but the Woman did not understand.

“I Am that I Am!” he said

“Oh,” said the Woman

and she felt her body spasm

anger and heat welling up within

as she spat “Get out!”

She threw down the flimsy statuettes

igniting toxic fumes.


On the Hill was the Woman

bent with the weight of the pole

dragging a thousand thoughtless actions

upwards to the hole.

“What Man does is Mine to carry,”

she cursed under the strain,

shoving the heavy wood into its socket

empty of hope and desire.


At the Tomb was the Man

leaning against the monstrous Stone

cradling the weeping child

as the wind blew scattered petals

onto the morning dew.

“She’s gone,” he said,

bending to wipe the tear-stained face.

He held the small broken heart

against his own mad beat,

and carried their child home.


On the Road was the child

“She’s here!” he cried,

dashing back and forth across the path

joyfully searching

through trees, rocks, and sands.

The Man stiffened in silence,

sensing her near.

Her Spirit, as light as breeze,

held them softly

as they moved onward

a radiant Horizon revealing

each step of the Way.

I - VI, 1996

VII, 2001

VIII, 2020

15 NOVEMBER 2020


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