This poem is a literary account of my intense religious experience in the Negev Desert, Israel, during Birthright 2012.
“The Negev is a mystical place,
A vast, empty space
Of lore that renews the sore
And breathes life
To those in strife,”
The Elders once stated
About this world that had been created.
I heard this in a dream,
A fleeting state of consciousness
Flowing like an unsteady stream.
What is the essence of my being?
I tumbled in my slumber,
My deep-seated fears tormentously disagreeing
As I question my capacity
For good and for bad.
A bitter chill percolated down my spine
As I imagined the Negev.
I would go there soon, I knew,
And find the answers to my questions
That I hope were true.
Under the curtain of night,
The Quarter-Moon emanated its sacred light.
The Desert was calling.
I wandered the expanse,
Exploring by myself the nature
Of the experience I pondered.
The Negev is a silent sea of stones.
It has rippling hills of ragged rocks
Where time’s reach is unknown.
The cobbles quietly listened
To my thoughts as the constellations glistened
Against an ageless gradient
Of splendid celestial radiance.
How I looked up to them
As they empowered me
With heavenly, healing truth.
Andromeda’s stardust shimmered.
Within my telltale heart I felt a stir
Of silent lucidity
In the chilled air
Devoid of humidity.
The day’s heat dissipated.
My emotions flared larger than anticipated
As a pulse of repressed anger,
The final vestige of chronic anger,
I collapsed cross-legged to the earth,
Clouded by foggy visions that foretold my rebirth.
Nothing is as simple as it seems,
For I must fight to be free
From the chains that bind
And the actions that blind
I meditated where I once stood,
Inconsolably overwhelmed with pent-up rage.
Into the ground I channeled it.
I invoked the demons I had to face.
It was the decision I chose,
To consciously unchain myself of laments,
Regrets, and woes.
I would clear the air
And let everything…just…go.
With agonizing force,
I pressed my palms
Against the frozen earth.
I would exorcise myself
For all I was worth.
Amidst the chaos
The Negev was strong and silent.
Not a sound could be heard.
As I came to terms with myself,
I could not speak a word.
In the deafening quiet,
My myriad mentations materialized.
I wrought with my thoughts
As I struggled to let them go.
I heaved my heart to the surface,
That much I felt and know.
The piercing desert cold that permeated my soul
Turned to pervasive warmth.
How could this be so?
My icy spirit rushed
As the glaciers in my heart
Melted to slush.
The antifreeze in my veins
Was blood once again
As a wide smile
Took over my face.
I grabbed a pebble and clenched,
As memories entrenched
Flashed before me.
I would diffuse them through transference.
Those demons would bow in deference
To my renewed spiritual might.
The dead-wick caught fire
As my soul combusted
For the first time in years.
How uncanny had I been brought
To mirthful tears.
The “Old Me” had died
As the pyre began to burn.
In a heartbeat,
My motivation had returned.
Gone were the assimilation and hate.
I was walking on the moon
When the Negev yielded
A gift humbling and great.
The Desert had kindled my inner candle,
The blazing blue flare to harness and to handle
And, ultimately, wield as a shield.
With a flourish of this newfound power I was nourished.
The pressure had dissolved.
No longer did my lovelorn spirit lust for longing.
My will had been resolved.
The Negev is a mystical place,
A rocky sea of ancestral memories
That permeates time and space.
It is my heritage.
“The desert is always colder at night,”
The Elders said of the sun’s respite.
“Moisture is rare and sparse
In this environment unfamiliar and harsh.
But, if we look carefully,
Great abundance can be found.”
I remembered this saying
As I looked inside my internal desert, praying.
I was the demon in the desert,
A lost, burnt-out soul on the mound.
My darkness had been inverted
As the light could not be averted.
At last in myself I found
The elusive joy that had left me spellbound.
In the strife my spirit had been reborn.
No longer was I helpless and torn.
Under the curtain of the night,
I discovered I had the might
To let it all go.
Such is the power of the Negev,
Whose great abundance is hidden.
With enough focus and attention,
It shows us,
Even our greatest demons—ourselves—
Can be overridden.