Joy in giving
Impressions from a visit to the Banias nature reserve.
Though named after the Greek nature god Pan,
I prefer to dedicate my poem to the Son of Man
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Motion of joy, joy in motion,
Gurgling, splashing, sparkling, serving,
Joyful, bountiful in endless devotion.
My, what a time they’re having,
Waters delighting on their tree-lined fall,
Which fill to full a person’s ears,
And seem to call, 'Drink from us,
Come calm your fears!'
The waters laugh and churn,
Twinkling and dancing their gush,
As if to possess our hearts they yearn,
Cascading ever lower in elated rush.
By the stream, by the falls,
Exotic plants, flowers, abundantly abound,
Unknown trees crag in rocky walls,
Drinking in the ravishing river sounds.
As a brook-bound plant I’d rather be,
With roots sent deep into the mighty stream,
My leaf and fruit growing free,
I’d never dwell in drought or doubt; so I dream.
And from the waters, nature grows immense;
For hours we ramble on hilly, muddy banks.
Ever the pure waters flow intense;
Our four hearts render quiet thanks.
A root I come across coils as a snake,
As if in paradise the tree is found.
A serpent impression it makes;
Whoosh, rush; waters soak channeled ground.
A school of children passes by
Cell phones held blaring tuneless noise;
To peaceful ways I ask why
Cannot we educate our girls and boys?
But back to the river and its transcendent worth,
Oh, how awe-inspiring in its inspiration;
It is as God speaking through the good earth:
Did the first two humans enjoy such a sensation?
Elated thoughts swirl through my soul;
Current flows round islands, curves on banks,
Singing, laughing, desirous to make whole,
He who’ll receive the river with loving thanks.
Not since I was a boy
Such intense pleasure in nature do I recall,
Unless to Sweden my thoughts I decoy,
But I’m at the bounteous Banias waterfall.
And I hear the watery refrain:
'Come, drink in a spiritual sense,
That as these damp hills you may flower again;'
The watery convoy its issue intensely intones.
On a bridge I watch and stand,
Gazing up and down on the flowing feast,
Scribbling what is given to my hand,
Praying for imagination to be released.
Look up and the flow comes in amazing power;
I stand enchanted on the overpass.
Look down and I wonder how to store this hour,
That nature’s glory in me will last and last.
Moving on up a charmed hill,
Wooden steps chant their secrets silently;
Spectacular scenery speaks heart-warming thrill
In glorious, spring-awakening rusticity.
A rock I behold pouring forth a rill;
I pause and imagine on the hill,
Moses before his sons and daughters,
Engaged as I am in the sight of lesser waters.
At hilltop I find a rocky perch
And gaze around at nature water-born;
I imagine a cry: 'this is God’s true church!
Enjoy the proffered bright new morn.'
I look up and see mountains of Galilee,
And ache to direct my pen aright;
The mountains speak of crowned majesty,
As I pray to do justice to sound and sight.
But how can I?
And I lament my powerlessness,
That if rhymes I write ’til I die,
Inadequate power my pen will possess,
But I’ll surely try.
I sense keen nature’s refrain;
Diligently, delightedly, I record today’s story;
Eagerly it courses through my brain,
Storing atmosphere striking in beauty.
Of tones and hues and special shades
I joy to fuss,
About what Israel’s unique God has made;
It forms not enough a part of us.
I love this restoration scene,
So much a part of the Jordan’s source.
Flora rise into a watery wonderful dream;
Surging stream mightily courses.
Such scenery I’ve not seen in Israel;
Ministering to the soul it deeply avails.
And as down to the river I go,
Into the swirlings my watch hand I plunge,
As if some inner healing I would know,
Some secret sin expunge.
Bearing onto the waters’ flow,
I come across a mighty oak.
These words surely it spoke:
'Prettier than this it’s hard to know.'
I wonder, is it just for us, this special show?
We meander along the bank for a few miles,
Down steps to a bridge over the river.
There’s cheer in this day and the ladies’ smiles,
And a gift in what the Reserve delivers.
I find myself on a great height;
Below me falls flow free, a fantastic sight.
Urgent in their full force,
Down, ever down, the waters course.
I’m sure they’re wending their way
To meet the Kinneret without delay.
Banias, happy river in full flood,
Keen to supply Kinneret with vital life blood.
Wholesome part of creation’s irrepressible joy,
Ample fact to which spring’s springs point,
Thank you that our time you’ve well employed,
And the stuff of words you care to anoint!
David Ben Haim,