In light of the massive snowstorm afflicting Israel – and the nor’easter still pounding New England, I offer some reflections on Psalm 29, the storm psalm, as filtered through Yehuda Amichai. Stay warm, Jerusalem.
The Storm Before the Calm
The Voice of the Eternal on the Waters, God in full glory thundering…
The Voice of Adonai smashing cedar forests on Mt. Lebanon…
Convulsing all the deer…stripping the forests…presiding over the cosmos…
Adonai’s force will be channeled to Israel, blessing God’s people Israel with peace. – Psalm 29
Amichai the poet wrote:
“Now in the storm before the calm
I can tell you what
In the calm before the storm I didn’t say
Because they would have heard us and discovered our hiding place.”
It is in the storm we hear the cosmic cry
Wind whipping, rain smashing, thunder blasting away
At our false sense of security.
And illusions of immortality.
There is no hope of hiding
Everything comes into question in the storm
And everything falls into place
We hold tight onto those few things we cherish the most
And those people
Jerusalem is built high in the mountains.
So when the plumes of clouds swell with rain
They plummet to within inches of the holy soil
The rain slashes the earth, violently decanting,
Splashing the shrines; the gravestones sink in the mud.
The entire force of the storm is concentrated there, going not one inch beyond Scopus Into the arid wilderness. In Jerusalem, the desert meets the sea. There are no compromises.
But the storm does end.
The clouds depart quickly, and stay away for months.
Allowing hope to rise again.
And the illusion of calm,
Which swells and swells
Until the storm returns.