Healing and Mazel Tov. The two don’t seem related since we most often associate “Mazel Tov” with a toast or some type of celebration. Healing we most associate with pain from some wound, whether physical, mental, social, or emotional.
While I’m working on art project and catching up on emails, I’m also listening to a playlist I’m curating that has all the best songs I can think of. Several of the ones that just played have to do with healing of some type. Because of how much healing has come to me these past four years, it seems appropriate.
Since turning 60 the other week, I find myself able to let go of past hurts in a way I never could have imagined. Hearing a song by Van Morrison that talked about “the healing has begun”, my mind and heart disagree with his lyrics. Why? Because my healing path started many years ago, in the 90s when I wrote a song called “Heal Me”. Here I am, 20 years later and preparing to walk a fresh path, it’s clear that my life is blessed with copious events of healing.
There’s so much we don’t know when we’re younger. With each decade, hopefully we learn and grow stronger from our mistakes and the wounds that are bound to occur by being a citizen of the world. Does that mean all of my healing is done, complete, finis? No. Of course not. Yet, now that I’ve lived 60 years and I am still here. I have the strength to face the years to come. This is why I say Mazel Tov today. Please read Jessica Jacobs’ powerful poem to understand more about how the words of healing and Mazel Tov came together for me in the moment of a song.
Mazel Tov by Jessica Jacobs
“His chin on my leg, he trusts me / with the weight of his head.”
Circular breather, our dog can whine
without ceasing, his tail thumping the wall
beside the bed to call me up and out to the yard
instead. In moonlight, the hydrangeas’
white blossoms are a zodiac of branch-bound
constellations. Once, God called Abraham
out from his tent to the open field to count
the uncountable lights above, promising
offspring bountiful as dust, numerous
as the stars. Like Abraham, I too left
my land, my birthplace, my father’s house.
But the closest I have to an offspring
is lifting his leg at the azalea, nose busy
with the news the night air brings.
Mazel tov! we say at births and other
joyous occasions, the Jewish go-to
for Congratulations! Yet tov means good
and mazel, constellation or destiny,
and sometimes, like Abraham, you must
leave the place that grew you to grow
toward better stars. In the house, my wife
is sleeping. Along the fence-top, a procession
of possums reminds that even in darkness
there are those who can see. Above,
trees, thick with summer, frame a porthole
of sky. Maybe, though, it’s not always the stars
that matter but the space between them,
the lines we draw to shape the absence,
the lives we forge around what goes missing.
From the deck, the cool breeze makes a festival
of the silver-lit leaves. Under my palm,
there’s the warmth of his fur, the rise
of his ribs. He doesn’t know his kidneys
are failing, that his muzzle is white
as the winter our vet has said he will
not live to see. Like all of us, he is
dying; like most of us, he doesn’t
know it. His chin on my leg, he trusts me
with the weight of his head. So, if I wish
you, mazel tov, know what I mean is,
May you find a reason to open
your door to the dark. I’ll mean,
May you live beneath good stars,
and take the time to notice.
Don’t let your soul get lonely
Child, it’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you that’s where you’ll find kindness
Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, winner of the Devil’s Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and Pelvis with Distance, winner of the New Mexico Book Award. Chapbook editor for Beloit Poetry Journal, she co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire with her wife, Nickole Brown.
Header image: Azalea Bush, Pat Canova / Alamy Stock Photo, January 30, 2017, Fort White, Florida.