Vayeira: Fire Within

1-heart-on-fireBound to an altar, saved at the last minute, neither blade nor sacrificial fire touched Isaac. Not physically, but he comes off the altar a different man and never speaks to his father again. This prayer is about the wounds we carry inside, the wounds no one else can see. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Fire Within
My burns
Cannot be seen on my flesh.
They are in my lungs
And in my eyes.
What medicine will halt the smoldering,
The smoke that suffocates from within?

My cuts
Cannot be seen on my skin.
They are in my heart
And in my throat.
What medicine will heal the bleeding,
The tide that floods from within?

Ancient One,
Release me from the fire and the knife:
The flame that consumes hope and joy,
The blade that destroys time and seasons.

Holy One,
Rock and Shelter,
Your medicine is love.
Your salve is holiness.
Your balm is life.

,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי
אֵל רְפוּאָה וּמַרְפֵּא
.מְקוֹר חַיִּים וְאַהֲבָה

Baruch atah, Adonai,
El r’fuah umarpei
M’kor chayim v’ahavah.

Blessed are You, Adonai,
God of health and healing,
Source of life and love.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Postscript: I originally conceived this as a prayer for men. Many men experience our internal struggles – fears, losses, shames, angers – as fire and knife. Although I don’t know if the metaphor holds for women, this piece seems more universally a prayer for healing than my other prayers for men. It first appeared on this site on Nov. 12, 2012.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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