My Life Now: Reflections on Deuteronomy

I mindlessly stand at the refrigerator
Aware that this is unhealthy eating behavior
And swirl my index finger in the homemade labneh
That I carefully tended, squeezing out the whey
And then, without regard for how I’m self medicating (because it was only recently that I had a peach, a plum and some tastes of chicken simmering on the stove)
I plunge my finger into my mouth, pulling the goat flavor into my body
Looking for at least a moment’s relief from worry, rage and fear.

This is my life now
Playing against type I crawl into bed, head filled with images
Of burning rainforests, an insane dictator, a moron; nuclear codes, babies in cages,
A tumbling stockmarket and the threat of global moral and economic collapse
And I reach for the Torah and a Book of Psalms.

Then I am face to face with an inscrutable God
Who is angry one minute: violent and despicable
then loving and rational
Laying out a peace plan for all of us for eternity
Complete with every detail: don’t do this, but definitely do this
And the world will rotate on its axis in harmony and wholeness
And if you think it’s hard, it is!
So he repeats the instructions
Over and over, hoping to convince himself and us that we could be filled with hope

And then I realize that these two parts of God are parts of myself
Bouncing between these two extremes
An insomniac obsession with doom and the details of fear
And then a moment later, filled with love, faith and goat cheese.

—Renna Ulvang, Psychotherapist and Spiritual Counseling, San Francisco, CA

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