One Dove’s Pluck

One Dove's Pluck - A poem.
October 6, 2021
Diane Labombarbe/Getty Images

After the horrendous interventions of warning, flood, ark, and saving remnant,
God’s work depends on one little bird’s pluck.
How is it that we never talk about the miracles she dares?

Her entire world was destroyed.
Human violence launched the world’s unraveling
which was quickly swept away by the flood.
Torrential water, fatal currents, drenching downpour.
Everyone she ever knew was drowned.
And everything she had ever known was submerged, forever gone.

Yet she musters the courage to leave her haven, the ark
to reclaim the memory of how to fly, and
to skim over new and endless seas,
cooing that her pounding heart is, at least, still alive,
and that life’s fragile heritage
requires bold selflessness.
She risks all. She ventures out.

If she had only flown out to seek her own new home,
it would be easy to forgive that focus.
After all, her life was sunk into the dark depths,
no one remained — no family, no friends, no community.
She could have decided to focus on herself
and we would compress our lips,
to show our seriousness, our understanding,
our struggling not to judge.

But she doesn’t fly away. Her second decision of greatness is
to return,
olive branch in her beak.
There is life for all of us!
We can all make it together!

If we have the courage to fly past the constraining shelters
that keep us alive, but remove us from the world.
And if we remember that life is bigger than any one of us.
The olive branch,
like our compassion,
belongs to us all.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is the Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair and professor of philosophy at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

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