The text for this song comes from Psalm 27, which is recited throughout the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah known as Elul and continues through the 10 days til Yom Kippur all the way til the very end of Sukkot to the end of Hoshana Rabba.

And within this Psalm, we hear the voice of longing for heart-to-heart conversation.

We hear the longing for reconnection and intimacy with the divine.

As I chanted this psalm and as I wrote the English translation or interpretation of its words, it also became a memorial prayer, a Yizkor prayer for me.

This time of remembering those we've lost, the friends and family no longer walking this planet with us, but whose memories and names, whose hearts and souls have made indelible impacts on our heart.

As we chant these words, I imagine a triangle of relationships. It can be self, God, and another person. And these words flowing back and forth between us and the beloved, between us and our family member between us and our friend.

Sometimes these words sound to me like God speaking to me, "seek My face". I want to be with you. That yearning for reconnection, return, with that Ultimate Source.

Sometimes it's a beloved relative or friend who no longer walks this plane whose memory in life yearns to cherish and hold on to.

Sometimes as I sing it I feel like I'm singing to someone in the congregation who I yearn to hear their heart conversation.

As you listen to this song, as you sing this song, as you receive this melody and these words, I invite you to all of the tenderness and all of the yearning.

In this text, there's the tension between the language of the heart and the appearances, or what is on the surface.

LECHA AMAR LIBI, "I speak, my heart speaks to you."

BAKSHU FANAI, "seek my face."

I invite you to explore the tensions of your inner truth and the way that you walk that truth in the world.

"Face" is an anthropomorphization of God, but it really means an interface, in the presence of God.

When we sing "I remember your face, you left an indelible trace," this could be talking about our moments of connection and certainty of God's presence in our life and the disorientation or disillusionment when we have moments of doubt or fear.

We could be speaking about those beloveds -- parents, siblings, children, friends -- who we've loved and lost on this plane and whose faces and lives made an indelible impact on our heart.

Allowing ourselves to experience the inner sanctuary of the heart where memory and meaning dwell while we never forget or never lose sight of that connection with those beloveds.

We can also imagine these words being sung to us, somewhere out there, God making note and remembering us, remembering our face, remembering our deepest, most original inner face. Also seeing the way we interface and interact with the world knowing we have a place within God's heart.

"Stay with me... SHIVTI..." sitting in the house of God, dwelling in the house of God, committing to committing. To showing up. To staying connected, returning to this prayer, returning to the song when we feel disconnected, when we feel separate, when we feel we've stepped away.

And that yearning for constantly abiding in the house of God, constantly remaining conscious of our connection, of our inter-being, of the ways our lives connect and interpenetrate and radiate one to the other.

The tempo of the song, its slowness, its sweetness, its depth, is an invitation for the tears to come. The tears of yearning, the tears of longing, this cosmic game of hide and seek where we hide from ourselves and each other, and desire to find one another.

This whole season, this whole Psalm, this whole journey is that love affair of returning. Allow your whole heart to sing this song, to be sung to.

See with each in-breath and with each out-breath, with each note, and with each rest, if you can enter into the ocean of giving and receiving, of reflecting and returning.

May this practice of remembering and being remembered write you into the book of life.

Shir Yaakov Feit

About

Shir Yaakov is Kol Hai's founder and spiritual director.