Lifting the Veil

Bilingual poetry book - $10.95 (Borealis Press, 2001)

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I wrote the title poem from Lifting the Veil after reading a chapter from Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths, by Karen Armstrong. I was struck by the way she described the storming of the temple in Jerusalem by the Roman general, Pompey. She talked about the symbolism connected to the various sections of the temple - the court of the gentiles, the court of the women, the court of Jewish men, the court of the priests and finally, the devir, the Holy of Holies. I could picture Pompey's amazement at what he found (or didn't find) there as he ripped down the sacred veil.

Lifting the Veil

Past the chaos of the primal sea,
past the ordered world of earth, fire, water and air,
past the joining of opposites, darkness and light,
past the sanctity of ritual and the calling out of prayer,
hangs a veil made of dream-woven fantasies.

And we are caught in its shimmering, silken strands.
There is no longing
that does not seek the lifting of that veil.

In September 63, before the current era,
Pompey took Jerusalem.
He stormed the Temple, the Court of Priests.
He raised his hand to tear back the veil,
to enter the devir, the Holy of Holies.

He found an empty room.
Nothing was there but the Invisible One.
The brave general turned and fled.

And nothing is real but the Invisible One,
the One who burned on the holy mountain top,
the One who flowed in the waters of Jordan,
Who whispered in the wind of a lonely desert cave,
the One who lies concealed,
revealed only by the opening of the heart.

Who can take what he cannot see?

Lift the veil gently.
We find what we bring.
The heart knows.