For the one crushed by sorrow, hope can be a prayer, a prayer of repentance, a prayer for healing. This is a High Holiday prayer for hope and healing – a kind of repentance – for someone deep in loss and despair. At first, it twists the classic metaphor of approaching the gates of repentance, the way grief distorts the way we see the world. Then it softens to a simple question: “What shall we say before You, G-d Old?” Here’s another prayer that uses the same metaphor, called “At the Gates.”
The Entry to Our Hearts
Who mourns at the gates of righteousness
And dances at the gates of desolation?
Who laughs at the gates of judgment,
And cries at the gates of peace?
Who sings at the gates of misfortune,
And howls at the gates of blessing?
Who shouts at the gates of mercy,
Standing mute at the gates of penance?
Source and Shelter,
We stand at the gates,
At the entry to our hearts,
At the passage to mystery,
At the crossroad of uncertainty.
What shall we say before You,
G-d of Old,
In this sorrow and this despair?
Let these prayers be for healing.
Let these prayers be for life.
Blessed are You,
G-d of Mercy,
You lead us from darkness to light,
From mourning to rejoicing,
From repentance to service,
So we may build our lives, anew.
© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: Here’s another prayer that uses the same metaphor, called “At the Gates.” This “Meditation before Neilah” does not mention the word ‘gates,’ but it uses the urgency of standing before the gates to create the internal emotion. Here are links to prayers for Elul, prayers for Rosh Hashana, prayers for Yom Kippur and prayers for Sukkot. Here’s a link to yizkor and memorial prayers. Please take a look at my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.
Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Source: Alden Solovy