I was at Yom Kippur services with my husband and saw this poem in the prayer book. The congregation was reading something else on the page, but my eyes caught the first line and so I stopped and read it. This is OK. Rabbi often says that if you see something you want to focus on then take a few minutes to read it and think about it, and then catch up with the current reading. I did.
Pride – Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936-2005)
“Even rocks crack, I tell you,
And not on account of age.
For years they lie on their backs in
The cold and the heat,
So many years,
It almost creates the impression
They don’t move, so the cracks can
A kind of pride.
Years pass over them as they wait.
Whoever is going to shatter them
Hasn’t come yet.
And so the moss flourishes, the
Seaweed s cast about,
The sea bursts out and slides back,
And it seems the rocks are
Till a little seal comes to rub against them
Come and goes,
And suddenly the stone has an
I told you, when rocks crack, it
Happens by surprise.
Not to mention people.”
Have you ever felt as though you had “cracked”? You were strong and then you cracked. You felt broken. I have. No more. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t handle this anymore. I can’t go there anymore. I feel beaten, alone, defeated. Indeed, my rock has cracked. And as the poem says, I was tough, a solid piece of granite for a long time, able to handle things and keep going and hear people tell me that I am so strong and that I am their rock and then one day I crack. Most don’t know that I have developed a crack though because unlike a rock where the crack is open and obvious, when a person cracks they withdraw, become quiet, and hide in some way. And those around them have no idea because the thing that finally causes the crack is often “a little seal,” in other words something small, minor, almost insignificant in the great world. And it is that little thing that becomes the symbol of all that has happened and the crack becomes large, and open, and raw. And it hurts, and it must be cared for, and the cure is sometimes long and painful.
And yet, unlike the rock, humans heal in some fashion. We learn while we are hiding our wounds. We go back to things of comfort to remember better times and to rebuild our foundation. We write, we talk to old friends, we give ourselves a timeout from the business of our lives so that we can regain our sense of self. We have a new view of things and, if we are lucky, see more clearly what needs to go away and which we need to hold closer.
Years ago I taught earthquake preparedness. Having survived the Whittier Narrows earthquake, just three weeks before my wedding, I knew the angst of rebuilding, handling insurance, government assistance, and contractors, while handling all the details of a wedding, presents in the house, and commuting to work daily. I dealt with it all until I found one gift, a Holly Hobbie statue of a girl wearing a coat and bonnet, with a muff, on ice skates. Although she had been in the box she was given to me in, it had been jammed against the wall in the quake and her head had broken off. After all the months and all that had happened I fell apart as I held the two pieces in my hands. I too felt as though I’d had my head snapped off.
I told this story in EQ preparedness class to emphasize the importance of securing family treasures and the normal reaction was students rolled their eyes, probably thinking me quite silly. Then came the 1994 7.0 Northridge EQ. Some weeks later a woman stopped me in the hall and recalled how I had warned students that it might be the smaller items that were the worst emotional loss. Her home had major damage and was barely livable. They were without electricity or clean water for days. Phone lines down. Nevertheless, she held it together and was strong and brave and powerful until the day she was going through a cabinet to reorganize what remained and found the crack in her rock. Her now grown son had made a cast of his hand when in was in pre-school and there it was, broken in many, many pieces.
Yet, there we were, alive, working, talking, functioning. I had healed and moved on and I could tell her that it would get better, but give it a while. Healing takes time. The crack heals in some way. That’s how we are different from the rock. Our cracks can heal, at least on the surface, and, in time, the inside pain lessens.
Are you a rock? Did you ever crack?
Every Day Is A Good Day. VJ
p.s. Hollie’s head glued back perfectly don’t you think?