(Note: this post was first published in 2009)
Every once in a while, someone finds a creative way to use an ancient text or practice to see something in the present more profoundly. When done well, this elevates the present through a thoughtful link to longstanding traditions. It’s rare, usually attempts are stilted or out-of-place. But occasionally it works and when it does, it outweighs dozens of awkward non-synergies.
A few years ago Irwin Kula made just such a creative linking. A book had recently come out relating the last messages of 9/11 victims and he set those voicemails to Eicha trope.
It is among the most haunting presentations I have ever encountered. For me, contemplating mortality is a very important spiritual exercise. I try to listen to this recording on 9/11 and tisha b’av. Give it a listen, but be forewarned, this is really really heavy stuff.
If you do listen, take a moment to realize the blessings in your life and their profound fleetingness. Apologies you have been waiting to make, things you have been waiting to say, love you have been waiting to express, injustices you have been scared to confront…enough waiting. Don’t lament, act. We are here but for a very brief time.