The Eighth Day: A Meditation for Monsey & Texas

“Chanukah, Night 7” by ShellyS is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Many of us have enjoyed weeks of the warmth of family gatherings, expressing love and hope in life and/or faith practice, and application of our deepest principles honoring humanity. It is important to remember that many members of our human family also share these feelings while they grieve at this time. Over the last weekend more were added to the human family sharing these paired emotions. Two tragic and violent events occurred in suburban New York City and White Settlement (Fort Worth area) resulting in trauma, injury and deaths in our communities. Each occurred while these communities worshiped. There were serial attacks reported on the streets of New York near Jewish places of worship across this Hanukkah, Christmas and other important holy days. We needn’t wait for “all the facts to be in” in each occurence to know that the conducts of hate and violence orbit together. How do we take a stand to counter and prevent hate practices? I don’t have the answers, except for myself and to begin by acting with these principles: align service to the people of our world to the practices of love & kindness, respect the differences of our faiths or secular values, and allow absoutely no refuge for hate in either. One thing we can do within the organizations to which we belong and influence is to explicitly prohibit acts of hate and the language of hate by members and within our bylaws and code of conduct. It’s a start.

The lyric offered below was written soon after I learned of the events in Monsey. It is hence dedicated to the people of Monsey and West Freeway Church.

The Eighth Day © December 2019, Vincent Hostak ( it may be shared in whole, no derivatives, & with attribution)

Why does hate have a home
when love is crying in the street?
How does hate visit a place
where it was never conjured?
It comes in darkness, the way it leaves.
Wielding fire, a blade or a gun, 
and a chorus of maledictions: 
“Segregation for survival.”
“I want what is mine.”
“This will show them all.”

It came so on Kristallnacht.
It raged barbarous,
even in These Days:
Laramie, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Sutherland Springs, El Paso.
Wherever love holds an address.
If anyone gives a home to hate,
will it come to ours?

Lift the shamash.
Light the candle
on the seventh night.
You only mean to honor the holy, the improbable-
wax sweltering in the tapers,
growing a tiny pool of fuel
which the flame both makes and drinks.
The light seems to remake itself by the hour.
Now a drip scuttles downward-
moves like worshipers fleeing the room to safety.

How will we shelter the remaining days?
How will we care for the injured?
When will we minister to ourselves?
There is a refuge
which our own hearts and
broad arms alone can render.

The story of each miracle,
from each text:
each are beautiful,
each our truths,
each grow in our hearts.
But we may not survive
unless we add one more.

Light the last candle.
Light it for the day when,
whatever aim or faith we are fixed to,
our lips form the words:
“No” and “Never” to hate:
hate in hiding,
hate in plain sight,
hate enacting its misguided fiction
of how it suffers
deprivation of the spoils
it thinks it, alone, once had, and still deserves;
in some time it thinks all mortals looked the same.

Light it for the day our actions
match our words
when our love & mercy are greater
than anyone prophesized them to be.

Christmas Eve 2019: The Life Artist

The Life Artist: Camellia on Pool Water, Christmas Eve, 2019

©2019, Vincent Hostak

From now forward
when I’m called to think
of christmas eve
it will be a camellia on pool water
which first appears.
Snowdrifts and holly crowns,
will always have their place.
But winter comes in many shades.
Stories are shared.
Each tell: how it all began,
how we changed,
became better or were saved.
All of it water from our favored wells,
channels tied to the same true spring,
quenching the same blessed thirst.
I can’t know with any certainty
if this flower moved itself, 
leaving the protective shade,
of magnolias planted near,
like a life artist
building this hopeful new myth.
I’d like to think it was courage.
I’d like to think it was faith.
I’d like to think that all
things share a conciousness-
a will to move to better states.
That we possess all the grace
we need at times as these.
Even the flowers must find a way.

Perhaps, it was just a December storm
that shook the branches,
cast the flower to the water
along with leaves that frame it here.

Whatever is the truth,
or madness, if you think it so,
come every Christmas Eve,
i will first see
a weightless and magenta dream
the blue arena, the cords of sunlight,
and the rewards of bearing witness
on one December day.

Conversation with the Night Sky

on the Solstice, December 2019

“five” by pappyfoundacamera is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bearing only a sliver of light
so I might know I adressed
the sky at all, I asked:
Why must there be more black night?
"So I may replenish
the color of crow feathers,
that wolves may know when to sing,
that the moon might cast
a reflection in black water
and know that it is beautiful.
Should you gaze
into another's pupils,
the place casting no reflection,
you may know all things with eyes
are twinned and share the color
of this gift I bring today."