Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Olaf's Yom Kippur.


Head-busy, out delivering the mail, utterly anythingarian with the world, no convictions either way. The sun blaze's through unforgiving, but a glorious butter field all the same. The sweat sticks my shirt to my back. I have a large bundle of mail secure in my right arm and my left arm is free to do letter box slight of hand, all morning. I'm in Belmont Drive, one of the wealthiest streets in Giffnock, a suburb in the affluent south side of Glasgow, home to many orthodox Jews. I post the mail thoughtlessly through the mouths of the letter boxes.

As I walk up the tenth drive way, I see a small congregation of Jewish men sitting in a garage up the top It's Rabbi Kakov's house and I see him, I walk up to him and hand the mail, no offering just a few bills and a parcel, and the men stare at me in tassels and black coat attire. They shut the door and begin to chant in tones that are no doubt directed to that which is God. Chanting on, tongues almost, mysterious on this summer Thursday morning. Chanting mysteries a million worlds apart from suburban docility. They sing to evoke the great Jewish spirit-thing in Hebrew tongues. I know not what they do. No comprehension of God in a book comes easy to me, to anyone perhaps, perhaps, if I was to put I name to it, I might say I'm a lover of the God beyond God conception.

I crunch off down the driveway. I stop to listen once more. I want to hear their chant, their wonder, taking up the moment, this far fetched possibility of something holy in the moment, what magic has captured their spirits or what madness has loosed upon them? I cannot tell the difference. I am not a man with answers. What strange history tradition holds. I do not know who is right or wrong. I stride on, rock upon my back, mailing the messages. My finger has a paper cut, I consider it as I walk, then I think of the Jews in their orthodoxy tassels and fedora hats. I think of Israel and Palestine. All the crossed wires, everyone chanting at the same time, making war out of the noise. I want to sing 'Liberate Palestine!' 'Scrutinize the Jewish Lobby' 'Tell us what you believe...' Everyone link arms.

Fishing more mail into voiceless letter boxes, I carry into new streets, and more indifferent stone houses. My back aches and strains, kilos of messages and pointless junk, kilos of the suns warm glare, kilos the crossed wires pushing on the phone lines. God surrounds me with its earth thing all around me, tree air water. I walk on as ever and know I am saved because I am still alive, and deny nothing. I carry on to Orchard Park and stuff letters and bills and good news into these sacred slots, then I hear a call: 'Excuse me! Excuse me, young man.' I turn swift, it's a Jewish man, he is in his uniform, black fedora, long black tench coat, and short thick black beard. He is God's gangsters. Slightly chubby. Pleasant. He talks with me.

'I don't know if you know but today is a Jewish Holy Day, and I was wondering if I could ask a favour of you?' 'Sure, in fact, I was just round on Belmont and I could hear the many chanting.' 'Ah' he said 'Where you you really? I was just round there myself praying. Well, on this Holiday we cannot use electricity and, if you wouldn't mind, could you come in to the house for a few minutes and give me a quick hand.' I smile all teddy bear soft and willing. 'That's not a problem. Lead the way.' 'Thank you so much, most postmen say no.' We waled into his house He was carrying a blue velvet pillow with golden writing stitched precisely upon it in Hebrew. Clearly this was pillow of or for a God, to sit upon or lay his head. It was beautiful in the sunlight.

'I find all these traditions intriguing but ultimately mystifying, especially when we look into the details of their origin. I haven't done that yet. Have you?' I ask frank but not rude. 'Yes, the world his many traditions , different religious traditions, that's all.' A blanket statement. We walked into the warm house he spoke Yiddish to his wife, saying somethings perhaps like:
I've brought a genteel in to help with the electricity. I could hear the family chattering in the next room, lively and engaged, like Christmas or New Year. 'I was wondering if you could turn the thermostat on our fridge up to 20.' The thermostat sat at 15. I had to move it all but 5 tiny fractions, 5 cosmically insignificant fractions, and then the job would be done. But then I thought to myself - is this some joke? Have I been had? Was such a triviality really forbidden on this day? Or was this some kind of 'get-a-genteel-to-help-you-with-a-menial-task-day? Surely to ask a genteel to disobey the Jewish law would not exempt the Jew himself from partaking in this metaphysical transgression? Should I tell him?

He stared directly at me and thanked me kindly. I obliged a smile and wished him happy days. Then, the second I walked out of his house cognition pulled through: Wait a minute! They had all the lights in the house on, including the porch light, how the hell did they manage to get all those lights on without help? Had the Jews been asking every passerby to switch on the odd light or two out of the kindness of their own Godlessness? I thought further through my mind, couldn't he just of
accidentally rubbed against the thermostat until he had reached the required temperature? A test from God or was the man testing to see if I was anti-semitic - did he expect me to decline and walk away in secular indifference.

I'm the postman with a sore back and strong calf muscles. My God is absolutely anything. I guess the meaning, I live alone, and I don't read books with a fine tooth comb. As far as I can tell, further perhaps, we all live together in God, and die alone in the end. Isn't it obvious? The Universe is Heaven. I'm off to finish this route. What a morning. Yom Kippur to you all. (Which reminds me, I must buy some kippers at the fish mongers) I'll see you in the rebuilt Jerusalem.


4 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

Nice story. Needs an edit but certainly worth polishing up and doing something with.

Sorlil said...

Great story, loved reading this.

Titus said...

Enjoyed this McGuire, and lots of memories of my 50% Jewish girls London School. We finished early on Fridays so they could get home before dark in preparation for the Sabbath. Cool.

Anonymous said...

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. lina holzbauer