Jewish Prayers From the Heart and Pen of Alden Solovy

Witnessing: A Meditation

grief-hugging-threeCan I really understand someone else’s journey? Can you? Are the simple facts of a death, an illness, a fire, a school shooting, enough to know another person’s heart? To witness is to bless. In our darkest hours, no gift is more important. This meditation is a reminder of the healing power of the witness. To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.


Witnessing: A Meditation
Have you seen the teen who cuts himself with a blade?
Or the youth who sticks herself with needles?
Have you seen a father force back tears while he buries his son?
Or a mother weeping with her daughter, wailing after an assault?
Do you hear the voices of the hungry, the lost, the shocked and confused
Afraid that they may never return from the darkness?

Brother, do not say: “I’ve been there.”
Sister, do not say: “I know that feeling.”
Rather, say: “I see you. I hear you. I honor you.”

Weep with me, not for me.
Pray with me, not about me.
Walk with me, don’t lead me.
This moment is not yours to repair,
Not yours to sooth,
Not yours to ease with the false balm of words.

Have you watched your daughter kiss her mother goodbye on the deathbed?
Have you seen your home consumed in fire?
If you have, bless you.
If you haven’t, bless you.

Have you stood with your sisters and brothers,
Not needing to understand,
Not needing to change the moment,
Witnessing in silence?
If you have, bless you.
If you haven’t, this blessing awaits you.

G-d of holiness and healing,
Teach us to be present as loving witnesses
On this amazing, glorious and dangerous journey.
Help us to stay awake to love and loss,
To be present for those in need.
Help me to see, to hear and to remember –
And so to bless –
The lonely and the lost,
The bereaved and bereft,
With compassion and love.
To stand with them,
As they have stood with me,
In the darkness,
Until I could, once again, face the light.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here is a link to a prayer with a similar theme, “The Cut that Heals.” Regarding losses, here’s a prayer “For Bereaved Children” and a “Meditation on the Burial of a Child.”

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Photo credit: Hosparus

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