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Without Ceasing

November 22, 2011

by Rachel Barenblat

The wash of dawn across the sky
reveals your signature.

Cicadas drone your praise
through the honey-slow afternoon.

The angular windmills on the ridge
recite your name with every turn.

And I, who can barely focus on breath
without drifting into story:

what can I say to you,
author of wisteria and sorrel,

you who shaped these soft hills
with glaciers’ slow passage?

You fashioned me as a gong:
your presence reverberates.

Help me to open my lips
that I may sing your praise.

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Rachel Barenblat was ordained as a rabbi in January of 2011, on the same day that her book 70 Faces — a collection of poems arising out of conversation with Torah — was published by Phoenicia Publishing. She holds an MFA from Bennington and is author of four previous chapbooks of poetry. Since 2003 she has blogged as the Velveteen Rabbi; she lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and their son, and serves Congregation Beth Israel as their rabbi.

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  1. November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks, Fiona and Kaspalita, for choosing this poem! I’m honored to be in this fine company.

  2. November 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    How perfectly beautiful. I loved the poem the moment I read “without ceasing” — certainly to pray, to meditate, to be mindful, without ceasing, is an imperative. Thank you for this —

  3. November 23, 2011 at 5:35 am


  4. November 23, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Beautiful, Rachel. A modern psalm.

  5. Rosemary Starace
    November 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Beautiful, Rachel, the poem and your reading. How I love “author of wisteria and sorrel!”

  6. victor fatherheart consoler
    January 20, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Rabbi Rachael,
    i thank you mother and Rabbi Rachael for your inspiration over my life.
    And i also thank our G-d on how he blessed you with speedy recovery and i also congratulate you on your second Rabbinical ordination and i answered Amein for the blessings which you gave me.

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