I went to see Gusti today. The hospice people told Gusti’s daughter “final days.” Gusti looked comfortable when I saw her, quiet and small and breathing well. No IV, no tubes, no oxygen. Just her face, soft and old, and her skin, thin and crinkly. She looked like she could open her eyes at any moment and smile, but she could not hear us and seemed to be starting a trip, an inward trip across an ocean.
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In 1930 Solomon Gandz claimed that Incas and Hebrews had invented in parallel, on separate continents, a common root of all literacy: knotted cord records. Gandz’s conjecture isn’t taken seriously today. Yet neither was it foolish of Gandz to wonder how threads and knots became a way to declare truths without words – and why knotted threads convince and compel us (and the Incas) in a way that seems self-evidently powerful.
As I was on the phone with one of my rabbinic mentors the other day debriefing the Poway shooting, I cried. I was processing my complex feelings about the current timeframe we find ourselves in, where I feel pulled between determined, militant hope and a life-sapping despair. ‘You look tired’, she said, and I knew she was right.
Preparing to act out the exodus from Egypt, the Second Grade made pictures of the burning bush and of the 10 plagues. Their teacher added the Hebrew words, and the whole class acted out each plague, hopping for fogs and scratching their heads for lice. They turned out the lights of hoshekh (darkness).