...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"Prospective Immigrants Please Note"

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.


I found this poem by Adrienne Rich on Rachel Barenblat's Velveteen Rabbi blog last summer. I remember being struck by it then, and feeling like both the poem and Rachel's commentary on it really spoke to my feelings about my conversion. She writes, "I see a chiastic structure here. For me, the middle stanza is the pivot on which the poem hinges. 'If you do not go through / it is possible / to live worthily,' Rich writes. Whatever leap you're considering taking: there's nothing wrong with not taking it. But if you don't take the leap, you won't know what new vision might await you on the other side." It's true: I could live a good life, a worthy life, a noble life as a non-Jew. I could live in tune with my spirituality; I could participate in loving relationship and live an ethical life. But what will blind me? What will evade me? And when I step throught the door, when I come out of the mikvah as a new-born Jewish woman, what "new visions" will be waiting for me on the other side?

Tomorrow, I'm taking the leap. God willing, tomorrow at 2pm at the Portland Jewish Ritualarium I will have my bet din and mikvah for conversion. Please hold me in your thoughts and prayers. I treasure your good intentions and energies directed my way.