Julie Leavitt

Yesod sh'b Hod: Intimacy within Splendor

Gaze between petals of a blossom. The eyes
of a friend. A candle flame.  Try a slow read of
a poem. Taste each word.

This intimacy helps us enter the mystery of the
Presence of someone or something outside of

Rilke said "To honor the space between us which helps us
to see another whole against the sky."

Let this time of social distancing be an
opportunity for the intimacy to really see each
other. To let someone you have known
become new.

Undistance yourself from tulips and red-
winged blackbirds. Life close up helps us truly

For this day of Yesod sh'b Hod, spend some
time with a flower, a candle flame, maybe,
a familiar face. Let it all become unfamiliar.

See for the very first time.

Let my head bow and my knees soften in the
Presence of Great Mystery.  

May it be so.





I needed to be taught
to plant seeds correctly
so they grow straight and full,
bear flowers, fruit
and die away.

My rows are crooked, my seeds windborn.
When did I forget
to live on the earth
as if I belonged
and hadn't forgotten
which way points west and what time the sun sets?

I am made from the skin of my ancestors
Who knew what the chicken from their soup
Was fed. They knew to bring their clothes in
When the wind changed,
And woke with the sun.

This morning I, too, woke with the sun
And walked to the path by the nesting swan.
I listened to the bird’s version of morning prayer
And swung my arms at my side with each step.

Can I learn to plant with attention
to the details of inches and feet?
Will frogs find my lettuce and eat bugs that might tatter it?
Will flower blossoms teach me to notice beauty and watch it pass?

We shed our skin
Every seven years.
This gives me a chance to
be new,
remember where I come from,
and if I’m lucky, return.




Melba and Trevor never
knew the weeds
that cluttered their worn 
grave stones, 
naming only days
of their birth and death.
I gather these hollow reeds
that may protect
my new strawberry plants.

I lay the small vine with a tiny berry
over the grave straw
asking for Melba and Trevor's
blessing to help
them grow,
knowing nothing
about their green thumbs
only that Melba died the day
we harvested this straw.
We leave stones to remember her
and her husband, Trevor.

May I leave straw for strawberries 
when my bones are dust
and, please God,
may they grow.






As a young mom
only sure of one thing,
I said, “Follow Your Heart.”

They probably ate some dirt,
maybe dessert before dinner,
quit before a class was over.
Still, ‘Follow your heart’
was the brand
of prescription glasses I offered
for their view of the world.

Today when looking
where to hike,
we turned right
onto a small path.

Tall trees were marked
with painted red hearts.
We followed each heart 
down the path.

We wove along rocks
and stream beds,
through New Hampshire oaks and birch,
over layers of pine needles and roots.

We found our way
where following hearts 
was the right path
through lichen-splattered trees
and mossy saplings,
a new place
discovered by carefully
following our hearts
with each next step.





Julie Leavitt is a body-centered spiritual director and psychotherapist, and a modern dancer. She loves learning from Jewish wisdom teachings, including the cycle of the year, and explores these words, images, and the spaces in between through dance and writing.