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Blue Sky

In Praise of Herb: Everyday Magic, Day 1091

Updated: Jan 27

This weekend, we celebrated the 90th birthday of our friend Herb, hands down one of the most creative and loving humans I've ever met. Herb is an artist in enamel, knitting, design, flower arranging, tailoring, and so many other areas it can make our heads spin.

Ken and I first met him over 38 years ago when he tailored dress pants for Ken to wear to our wedding, back when Herb worked at a men's clothing store. We got to know him mostly through the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, where he was mainstay -- and often one of the most important elders and loving presences -- in the lives of our kids and us too.

As a community poet, I get to occasionally write occasional poems -- odes or elegies for people and events -- and here is what I wrote for Herb.

We Know You're Here

When the room lights up

with your brilliant green sweater,

hand-knit and designed of course by you,

your smile a billboard of graciousness,

your voice leading us home again

through the old country of the Kiddish

to the interior sweetness always here.

We see you in the curve of the tree,

plated with our names and mitzvahs,

and the enamel flames guarding torah.

We sense your good taste in the balance

of mezuzahs and sunrise Hanukkah candles,

up the stairs or through the kitchen,

across the bema or back to the table

where you lift the challah, your voice

warm as honey, home, and hamotzi.

Every lilt, corner, and slant of music

and light at this synagogue knows

your vibrant laugh, your hand reaching

out to ours, your spirit so intent

on finding out how we are.

Beauty flocks to you and you to beauty

on the walls, in the garden, along the days,

in each greeting, pause, or goodbye.

You give us enough warmth to remember,

even when we’re tired or broken, what it is

to dwell together in prayer and talk,

to hold the babies, kiss the lonely,

pass the shovel, or pour some coffee

to those waiting in line on a cold morning.

The book of life you’ve written here

goes on, tonight another page

showing us how in the world

to be a light, to love.

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1 Comment

Jan 22

I love it! What a marvelous tribute.

Blue Sky
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