Kavannot for Pesach Chanting

Seder Plate
Image:Annie Matan Gilbert

Piyyutim by Annie Matan Gilbert

1. Min Hametzar
God, have you forgotten me?
I have forgotten how to breathe.
The air here is tight around me
Each day presses in and tomorrow feels impossibly far away
I long to feel your wide, wide love
To feel hard earth beneath my cracked feet, shade on my bent back, cool mist on my sun-scorched skin
I long to hear sweet words
For respite from the sting that forces me into this pit and keeps me here
Day after day
God, though my voice is barely a broken whisper, I am calling out
In remembering
Please remember me
Remember my family
And our ancestors
Bring us home to you
Turn us back toward your embrace
And fold us in
We have been lost so long
And now, we are ready
Find us
Remember us
At night we sing a secret song of breath and cooling shadows
By day we squint our eyes and hope that when we open them
You will be here, a hand on our brow
A breath of wind at our backs
We sing to you
Hear our song
Come and bring us home.

2. Mi Chamocha
Almighty God,
I have known fear and I have known comfort
And here, in this moment
My eyes are wide open
My heart is wide open
With each step, my heart pounds
And I can feel my lips stretching into a smile
The sounds of the sea are all around
And the sounds of children
You are here
And everywhere
Between me and this miracle
In my heart
In the winged ones above us
And in the spray of the sea that cools my face
This journey has been so long
I have been so tired
And I have been so afraid
But here, in this moment
Between the certainty of death and loss
And the wonder of an open way ahead that seems to go on forever
Between the sea and the sea
Here I am
And here You are
You are a gift
I can see with my feet on this muddy earth
With the tips of my fingers
Tracing wet lines through the walls of water that hold me in
Hold me up
Hold me close to you
You are here
Inside me
Pulling me to safety
To Your side
One mud-soaked step at a time.
Kavannot for Pesach Chanting Workshop

3. Bechol Makom
Oh God
I am almost afraid to look over my shoulder
To see how far I’ve come
The expanse seems impossibly wide
And yet
Here I am
Singing Your Name
Surrounded by love and family
Breathing hope in and out
I raise my eyes to the horizon and it feels so close
I am giddy with relief
Your sea is calm now at our backs
The line of the brown rocks
From which we leapt
Only hours ago
Seems a distant memory
This moment is all joy and wonder
We sing and we sing
Circles within circles of men and women and children
All filled up with Your name
With Your praises
Our hearts are full
Our lives are yours
We lift our eyes to you
And know we have arrived at the beginning
Of greatness
We have set our feet firmly on Your path
The one that leads straight to Your door
To our true home
To our destiny
To You and to us
Inside each other
Together in each moment
At last

Annie singing at Comedy Basement 0310

Annie Matan Gilbert is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, artist and spiritual leader.  She focuses her spiritual work on using music and creativity to illuminate Jewish texts and rituals. contact@anniegilbert.com