Blessing for Fermentation, 2017
(written for Queer Mikveh for Pride. Baker Beach, San Francisco CA, June 2017.)
Brine, like tears, like the sea is salt water. Brine, like tears, like the sea, is activated with bubbling, proliferating life by and through the act of its containment. The sea thrives in its vigorous multitudes exactly as it is permitted to rest within and upon the sacred vessel of our home planet earth, as our tears rest within and upon the sacred vessel of our bodies, as this brine within and upon this crock.
In her poetry, Jewish scholar Marcia Falk refers to G!d using the gender-neutral “Well of Life” - this well is like the crock and like the mikveh - the container of life-giving waters, the beginning of everything.
Below the surface of the water is liminal space, matter transforms here - and as queers, we know this place of in-between-ness, we are liminal people.
When we taste pickles, what we are tasting is microbial life in all it's glorious complexity and nuance and layering. The simple sweetness of the fresh vegetables drunk up and worked through the digestion system of these subtle creatures as they grow stronger and excrete acids and gasses. The sourness and fizziness you taste is the flavor of complexity itself. The layers of experience and specific desire through which the matter has been transformed.
And along this path of transformation we know the pain of loss and conflict can be our teacher to see clearly and feel clearly where change is underway. As we honor the complexity of life and the new forms emerging from the brine of fermentation, from our bodies, from the mikveh, we honor the pain that has been our teacher in seeing and knowing these sites of transformation, to draw our attention to them and not just turn away from the pain. We honor our own fierce bravery in not turning away from the pain, but moving into and through the liminal places. And we honor need for rest and care, in holding the beautiful divinity of our queer bodies, our crocks, our mikva’ot, our vessels of transformation.
.נברך את המעין, אלוהנו רוח העולמ, שנותנת חיים, שמביא מות, ותוססת שינוי
Let us bless the well, majestic spirit of the universe, who gives life, brings death, and ferments change.