“Faith is an oasis in the desert that can never be reached by the caravan of thinking”

             Kahlil Gibran

“I wish I had faith like you.” Bob,the well grounded scientist shared softly.
“What do you mean?” Scott was mindful.

“Having faith makes life easier. When we don’t understand something we ask “God” to take care of it.”

“I am not sure if I understand what you are saying. What is your image of God?”

“Well, the image that all the authorities in religion and history have defined God, an almighty source of power that can make anything happen and is in charge of the universe.”

“That is a man-made concept. I am not really sure how it started and where it is coming from. Yet, the history shows that image was to create fear in people, so the authorities would have control over them.”

“Yes, exactly!. When we look at the human history, the governments have taken advantage of people’s faith for their own benefit as it is said “Divide and Conquer”.”

“I thought we were discussing faith. What does it have to do with religion?”

“Don’t they go hand in hand?”

“Not for me. You can have faith in anything you choose!”

“What do you mean “anything”? Isn’t faith believing in something that no one can explain, see, prove or document?”

“When you say “believe”, it means we have heard something from another and incorporated into our belief system. Frequently, we tend to believe in values we have received from our parents, teachers, mentors without examining them. Faith is different.”

“Can you explain faith to me?”

“The way I know you, you can have faith in kindness. You have always been a kind man helping others in any way you can.”

“That is kindness. It is not faith!”

“Again, to me you can have faith in anything you choose. You are a man of science. You can have faith in science, in medical technology, in the law of gravity, etc…”

“Yes, the law of gravity doesn’t change. An apple will always fall from a tree. I can trust that.”

“Yes, yet you have seen people being weightless in space where the law of gravity does not apply.”

“You know what I mean. I want to have faith in something I can trust and count on. Something to give me inner peace. When I look at our planet, it scares me. I wish there was a God and would end all these violence, cruelty, pain and suffering.”

“You are such a kind and loving person and the injustice anywhere impacts your soul. You seem to wish that an “entity”, a force would take care of it and you keep going back again to the man-made concept of God. I wonder if you may have had a religious wound growing up.”

“What do you mean by that?”
“Frequently, as children we accept our parents belief system. We love them, trust them, need them, and don’t have the tools of examining any of their values. Then, as adults we read, explore, examine and at times all of our belief system fall apart. We become aware of some of the man-made rituals that may not make any sense to us. It may result in a religious wound, losing trust in what we felt was the solid  Truth to us once. Now we need scientific proof, a reliable and dependable ground to begin to trust or have faith again.”

There was a long meaningful pause.

“Yes, I can relate to that. Everything that I thought was “faith” growing up, became nonsense. I can say I have faith in science.”

“Yet, science can go so far and there is an  endless ocean of knowledge, energy that science has not been able to grasp with its current tools.”

“I still don’t know what faith is?”
“When a person with an illness goes to a healer and has faith that the healer can heal him, he is healed from a major health issue like cancer, what do you think of that?”

“I don’t know. It could be placebo effect, spontaneous healing, random….. People did get well before we had doctors and hospitals.”

“My friend, I can see that we can intellectually explore, discuss, and exchange ideas for hours and hours and likely not reach a place of feeling grounded. As Gibran well stated we cannot reach the oasis by the caravan of thinking. This is about an inner experience that no one, no scientist can explain. I can give you many examples of what western medicine will consider a miracle. Yet, I can see your high IQ and ego may consider any alternative except the possibility of truth beyond understanding of our brains.”

“I cannot “force” myself to have faith! I need to see it with my own eyes with evidence beyond the reasonable doubt.”

“I understand where you are coming from. Your physical eyes can see only so much. At this point my invitation is simply to be open and ask the universe for an opportunity for understanding the universal intelligent energy that is in all beings. This energy does not judge, is neutral and reflects our inner thoughts.”

” Thank you, I will think about this and will process, looking forward to our next conversation. I trust you know I respect your knowledge.”
” The respect is mutual.”













The English language

Has lost its poetry—

We’ve omitted the emotions,

The colors, the music,

Packed and stored them in the attic

Like my grandmother’s wood burning stove.

Old sepia photographs dusty and flaking,

Like the memories I wish I had of her,

Packed there too.

She died before I was two,

So all I have are tales

Woven into linen cloths,

Handed down by my father,

Held jealously by me,

As though they are really mine.



Sometimes I think I can see her

Standing before me

Wearing a coarse black cotton dress,

Made by her own hand,

Fabric brought with her from Riga.

Unruly hair, specked with gray,

Frizzes around her head

As she kneads the dough,

Baking on Friday, breads

That will keep the family for a week,

Filling the house with the aroma of yeast.


I bake my own bread too

And wish I had her baking lessons

And the stories of her youth

To twist into the challah

I bake for the holidays.

When my father watches me

Braid the dough,

He leans back in his chair,

Puts his hands behind his head,

He talks of his mother.


He tells me

He wishes I had known her—

About the food she cooked

To feed her family of nine

And the house guests

That arrived in a steady stream—

Six course meals that she prepared

and served in summer

To the paying guests at the hotel

They owned in the Catskill Mountains.


He hells me

About some of his favorite foods—

Sweet and sour calves tongues

In apricot and almond sauce,

And how they would pick up the plates,

Lick them clean;

The taiglach she would bake

For Rosh Hashanah

Rolling dough balls that she boiled in honey,

Then layering them with whole nuts

And dried fruit pieces—

Vegetarian chopped liver

Made from string beans, caramelized onions,

Hard cooked eggs

And who knows what else,

But a recipe I wish I had.


No one asked the questions I ask today

So there are no answers to fill in the blank places.

Just books and movies.

I remember the scene from Fiddler on the Roof,

The entire town packing and heading off on foot,

Carrying their meager possessions with them.

Their spirit and their love for God and tradition

Keeping them strong as the guards on horseback

Scream at them, prod them on.

Suddenly, I see grandma Eda,

She stops along the way,

Her head covered with a babushka,

Hands over her eyes,

She intones the Sabbath prayer,

It is Friday night.


I know nothing of her passage across the great sea

Nor her struggle to learn English.

I don’t know her sorrow

When she buried her sixth baby,

Left outdoors too long by a nurse,

Nor do I know of her joy

At the birth of her next, my father.

Her hopes and her dreams, the music of her heart

And the poetry of her Latvian language,

All buried with her.


A poem by Erna Ferris


Happy Birthday Erna

—- In German Translated By Ulrike Bocker —-


Die englische Sprache
Hat ihre Poesie verloren –
Wir haben die Emotionen weggelassen,
Die Farben, die Musik,
Verpackt und auf dem Dachboden aufbewahrt
Wie der Herd meiner Großmutter, der mit Holz befeuert wurde.
Alte Sepia Fotografien staubig und abgeplatzt.
Die Erinnerungen, die ich wünschte, von ihr zu haben,
Sind auch dort gelagert.
Sie starb, bevor ich zwei war,
Also ist alles, was ich habe Geschichten
Gewebt in Leinengebinden,
Von meinem Vater überliefert,
Eifersüchtig von mir bewahrt,
So, als ob sie wirklich meine wären.

Manchmal meine ich, dass ich sie sehen kann
Vor mir stehend
Gekleidet in einem groben, schwarzen Baumwollkleid,
Mit ihren eigenen Händen gemacht,
Der Stoff aus Riga mitgebracht.
Widerspenstiges Haar, grau gesprenkelt,
Krauses Haar um den Kopf
Wie sie den Teig knetet,
Backen am Freitag , Brote
Die werden die Familie für eine Woche nähren,
Das Haus riecht nach dem Aroma von Hefe.

Ich backe auch meine eigenen Brote
Und wünschte, ich hätte Backunterricht von ihr bekommen
Und die Geschichten ihrer Jugend
Um Hefezöpfe (challah) zu backen.
Ich backe für den Urlaub.
Wenn mein Vater mich ansieht
Beim Teigflechten,
Er lehnt sich in seinem Stuhl zurück,
Legt die Hände hinter den Kopf,
Er spricht von seiner Mutter.

Er erzählt mir
Er wünschte, ich hätte sie gekannt —
Über das Essen, das sie kochte
Dass sie ihre neunköpfige Familie ernährte
Und die Gäste des Hauses
Die in einem stetigen Strom kamen –
Sechs-Gänge-Menüs, die sie vorbereitete
und im Sommer servierte
Von zahlenden Gästen im Hotel
Das sie in den Catskill Mountains besaßen.

Er sprach
Über einige seiner Lieblingsspeisen –
Süße und saure Kälber- Zungen
In Aprikose-Mandel-Sauce,
Und wie sie die Platten abholen würde,
Leck sie sauber;
Die Pasteten (Taiglach), die sie backen würde
Für Rosh Hashanah —
Rollende Teigkugeln, die sie in Honig kochte,
Dann mit ganzen Nüssen überlagerte
Und getrocknete Fruchtstücke —
Vegetarische gehackte Leber
Hergestellt aus Bohnen, karamellisierten Zwiebeln,
Hart gekochten Eiern
Und wer weiß, was sonst noch,
Aber ein Rezept, das ich gerne hätte.

Niemand hat die Fragen gestellt, die ich heute stelle
So gibt es keine Antworten, die die leeren Stellen ausfüllen.
Nur Bücher und Filme.
Ich erinnere mich an die Szene in „Fiddler on the Roof”,
Die ganze Stadt packte und machte sich zu Fuß auf den Weg,
Trugen ihren mageren Besitz mit sich.
Ihren Geist und ihre Liebe zu Gott und Tradition
Halten sie stark wie die Wächter auf dem Pferderücken
Sie schreien sie an, stoßen sie weiter
Plötzlich sehe ich Oma Eda,
Sie stoppt auf dem Weg,
Den Kopf bedeckt mit einer Babuschka,
Die Hände über die Augen,
Sie intoniert das Sabbat-Gebet,
Es ist Freitagabend.

Ich weiß nichts von ihrem Gang über das große Meer
Auch nichts über ihren Kampf, Englisch zu lernen.
Ich weiß nichts über ihre Trauer
Als sie ihre sechste Baby begrub,
Zu lange von einer Krankenschwester im Freien gelassen,
Ich weiß auch nichts über ihre Freude
Bei der Geburt ihres nächsten Kindes, meinem Vater.
Ihre Hoffnungen und ihre Träume, die Musik ihres Herzens
Und die Poesie ihrer lettischen Sprache,
Alles wurde mit ihr begraben.

Ein Gedicht von Erna Ferris

I Love You


“I love you”

“What is love?” Ella asked her grandma

“Love is how I feel about you.”

“Can I see love?”

“Love is what we feel. Can’t see.”

“Can I hold it?”

“Sort of, inside, in our heart.” She pointed to her chest.

Ella pointed to her chest “Is love in my tummy?”

“Love is everywhere if we listen, come here and hear my heart beat.”

Ella put her ear to grandma’s heart and smiled. “Boom, boom”. She giggled.

“My heart says I love you with every beat, Ella”

“Grandma, can I eat love?”

“You can eat applesauce I made for you with love. You would taste it.”

“How can I hear love, grandma?”

“When you hear sound that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like the sound of raindrops.”

“Can I touch love?”

“Yes. Do you know how it feels when you touch mommy and daddy, holding hands, cuddle, hug, a big bear hug…?”

“Yes, I love it”

“That is touching love. When you hold a puppy, a kitten or your doll with love, they feel your love.”

“Grandma, I know you love me when you hug me. But I feel loved whenever I am with you, even when you are not hugging me.”

“How did you become so wise, little one? Yes, being together is an expression of love. I love every moment we spend together. How would you like to go outside together and say hello to the sun?”

“Yes, let’s go.”

“May I hold your hand so I won’t get lost?” ………….