Wednesday, October 11, 2023

What's Going On? Indeed! - Neshama / Clinging to Gratitude


Clinging to Gratitude 


This poem was written as the horror in Ukraine unfolded and now today

another day, and new unimaginable horrors …and I cling to the gratitude

of neshama, which as I understand it, in Judaism, is the concept of the 

beginning and essence of life and the soul itself and therefore somewhat

appropriate for the current nightmare in Israel as I….

Cling with gratitude and great gulping breaths, calming my horrified eyes

Trying to slow my anxious heart, and trembling fingers -


I breathe fill my lungs, fill my stunned self with self-serving


for  my supreme, unguaranteed privilege of safety

as with deep quavering breaths – I type in a quiet

room where faint bird song drifts through the window. 







Neshama - Neshama - breath of life -  sacred soul ... 

sit in my bed at night - in the dawn of early morning

this helpless cheer-leader - pounding sunflower 

pom poms - poems and pretty pictures -illuming my 

unadulterated incompetence to truly assist - with each

breath - my shame - inhaled - my safe existence exhaled 

as I sit - watching, watching, the soul of freedom furl

manifested in streets - one particled part of this entire 

watching world who gather and cheer - some as simple

spectators at a novel televised event -this watching world 

that sends a bit of support here and there as men learn 

weapons and kiss loved ones off – 

as mothers craft molotovs - babes at breast – 

take arms or flight away - in the cold, cold -

smiling for children, tears flicked off tired eyes- 

as a singular voice calm and measured rises above –

rises in a clarion call to all to come and join in protecting freedom sacrosanct - 

calls in unwavering passion –

 Neshama manifested – 

in a leader in a people – 

as the world watches - and watches and watches –

 Neshama - Neshama -soul of breath - of life - 

We are one - We are one breath - 

I cringe in my privilege far far 

away - push the button on my 

coffee maker -return to 

the couch along with millions

of others to watch - to watch - 

Nesahama - Neshama 

soul of humanity -

my breath held 

witness to 

Glory -


Neshama –







  1. I so resonate with this poem, Pearl - ashamed of my good fortune in a world of war and devastating suffering. You have expressed this so well. Neshama - the breath of life - beautiful to contemplate as Planet Earth waits for humanity to grow wise and come together. Stop the suffering.

  2. This is so powerful, Pearl. Yes, we are privileged indeed; and most of the time we don't stop to realize it until we reflect on Ukraine....or Israel...or where will it be next? Yes, we are grateful it isn't us....this time. But it is someone, and that is the horror of it all!

    1. Yes, guilty gratitude, we are grateful that this time the "someone" is not us. Thank you Mary.

  3. "Neshama - Neshama - breath of life - sacred soul ...
    sit in my bed at night - in the dawn of early morning
    this helpless cheer-leader . . . "
    This is the action, Dr. Pearl, this poem that cries out of the silence in a safe part of the world. Thank you for being a voice, a light in the darkness.

    1. Oh Susan, high praise indeed, to be called a voice, a light in the darkness - thank you - you have touched me deeply.

  4. - with each
    breath - my shame - inhaled - my safe existence exhaled: yes indeed, many of us seem to be dealing with that position of helplessness and privilege as the world collapses into carnage.

    1. Yes, Rajani helplessness and privilege an uncomfortable duality - but necessary to feel the discomfort to continue to care in a world that is too often apparently indifferent.

  5. "with each / breath my shame - inhaled - my safe existence exhaled"....This is exactly what our feelings and thoughts are about what's going on. You've said it so powerfully and with heart. I believe most people are good and it's only a handful of them responsible for all the misery. Sigh.

    1. Thank you Sumana and I too agree that most people are good and yet it is the minority that wreak such misery. A sigh is a perfect response.

  6. I am feeling the horror of this situation and trying to get past the numbness and shock. I also feel a sense of privilege in being here in America and safe, yet friends are more deeply impacted as they fear for loved ones.

  7. Pearl Girl, this. just THIS. You have found a way to examine our shared privilege in a way that isn't just self-flagellating. There is depth in this. It is possible to be safely away from something and still be a part of it. If we all were to head out to Ukraine, to Fukushima, to the occupied West Bank, would we feel it more deeply, or would we just be in the way, like the worst kind of tourists?