A Reading For Havdalah

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The sun slides from the sky
as the sparks of the day are tamped out.
From the last we ignite the twisted candle
that summons us to remember how to braid
into the rough wool of our daily lives.
that silken skein of the bright and holy;

that reminds us we are a quilted people
who have picked up the dye of our surroundings,
as tall and short, as dark and light as the lands,
we have been blown to, eating of strange
and distant trees, that we are a varied people
braided into one;

the candle that reminds us we pray with many
accents, in many languages and ways.
All are holy and burn with their own inner 
light as the strands of this wax flame together.

Woman, man, whomever we love and live with,
single or coupled, webbed in family of solitary,
born a Jew or choosing, pious or searching,
we bring our thread to the pattern.
We are stronger for the weaving of our strands.

Let us draw in together before we scatter
into the maze of our jobs and worries,
let us feel ourselves in the paused dance
that is the candle with its leaping flame:
let us too pause before Shabbat lets us go.

Let us rejoice in the fruit of the vine,
the blood of summer sweet and warm
on the lips, telling us, remember to enjoy
the swift innocent pleasures of the earth.

Let us breathe the perfume of the spices.
Ships sailed off the edges of maps into chaos,
Tribes were enslaved and rulers overthrown
for these heady flavors more prized than gold,
now sold like flour in the market.

Let us not forget to savor the common wonders.
Let us linger in the last candlelight of Shabbat.
Here we have felt ourself again a people and one.
Here we have kindled our ancestors to flame in our minds.
Here we have gazed on the faces of the week’s casualties,
opened the doors for our guilt, raised our eyes
to the high bright places we would like to walk soon.
This little light we have borne on our braided selves,
let us take it with us cupped in our minds.

Now we drown the candle in the little lake of wine.
The only light we have kept is inside us.
Let us take it home to shine in our daily lives.
-Marge Piercy

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