Wednesday, April 20, 2016

chagall's bar mitzvah

“This past year, when the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross coincided with Yom Kippur (the last time was 1899, the year of Chagall’s bar mitzvah, when, he tells us, he discovered he was an artist), Chagall’s work acquired for me an added resonance.”   -David Lyle Jeffrey*


Strange, this coming of
age. This no-man’s
place is at once pneuma and nomina and neither,
a space

when I am both and neither
boy and man, created or creator,
hopeful Jew nor suffering Christian—
or is it the other way around
and both ways around?

What does it mean?
That is what I ask
every now—

and again I wonder
if laughter is disguised pain,
the mended coat of the mendicant—
the joyful Slain
whose unstitched side
opens wide
to hold those who are
at home in a wilderness of wounds.

This coincidence, this coming of age,
this polarity
only comes along
every now

(and again)
in the form of troubled still water
or the storm’s calm
nor both.

I feel as if I am made of questions
that both shake or make me,
questions like:  

“How do I befriend this tension,
by tradition or creation?
Neither or both?
Do you grasp by clutching or opening up?
What will I do,
who will I be,
and who will mediate
my past and future:
me or He
who is Not Me?
Neither or both or
either?”


Chagall’s bar mitzvah
by Troy Cady


*Jeffrey, David Lyle. “The Christ of Marc Chagall”, First Things. April 2014.






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