June 1984

Readers Write

Miracles

Bernoulli’s principle explains how heavier-than-air machines defy gravity: the air moving across the top of the wing, helped by the rounded shape, flows faster and is therefore less dense than the air flowing along the flat underside. As a result there is greater pressure on the bottom of the wing, and the craft is lifted skyward. But this fact of physical reality, known to my brain, is ignored by my senses. I stand on the observation deck at the airport gazing onto the miracle of a Boeing 737 preparing for take-off. Loaded with luggage and humans, the monstrous ship whistles across the runway, then jumps gently into midair where it will hang for hours. I stare in credulously. I’ve seen barn owls swoop noiselessly over treetops, Martins play tag in the wind, jeweled hummingbirds maneuver in and out of small openings in the bush. I’ve looked down at endless squares of neighborhoods from the seat of a single-engine Cessna. I’ve even flapped my arms in dreams, lifting my delighted body higher than smokestacks. But not once have I calmly comprehended the sight of a 50-ton jet soaring away from Earth and into the clouds. This is no hollow-boned bird. This is 50 tons leaving the ground. Gracefully.

By Our Readers
Quotations

Sunbeams

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.

Ramana Maharshi

The Sun Interview

Judaism’s Mystical Heart

An Interview With Dovid Din

Judaism is very concerned with the natural rhythms of things . . . like crying children, and the pulse of family life. It insists on family life, and is very cautious of the ascetic or celibate life — which may be an important route, but it’s not real.

By Howard Jay Rubin
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Low As The Sand, High As The Sky

What Is A Jew?

“Hear Oh Israel, The Lord is our God, The Lord is One,” is Judaism’s highest affirmation and prayer, and perhaps the one thing most Jews readily agree on. What is a Jew? You’ll get as many answers as there are people to ask. What else might Bob Dylan, Karl Marx, Woody Allen, Sigmund Freud, and Martin Buber have in common but their Jewish roots — some well-watered, some exposed, some withered. There’s a Jewish saying that dialogues often take place among people far separated in time and space. Someone, somewhere, asks a question that someone else independently answers, which raises another question, and a continuing dialogue takes place through the ages. In the spirit of such a dialogue, woven loosely around the question, “What is a Jew?” here are some answers.

By Howard Jay Rubin
Fiction

Descent Into Brotherland

Oh south dallas va hospital red brick buildings blocks long and blocks wide with many wings, where the war-broken men wheel up and down the high-waxed grey-tiled corridors without legs without arms without eyes sometimes, hundreds of would-have been-beautiful-well-made men come to the hospital from that place called WAR: off-limits to women except those whose homes have been chosen in some male poker game parlor pentagon as a good War Zone. So the women who come to the va hospital are rarely there on their own account, but come instead with their husbands and lovers and brothers, the men leaning against the women with canes, holding the women’s hands, the women wheeling the chairs, the women writing out papers for them, just like me coming with my brother okie because his appointment slips come stamped in red TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY A FAMILY MEMBER, the two of us in the van he drove down from oklahoma pulling into the parking lot.

By Pat Ellis Taylor
Fiction

Landing Light, Carrying Nothing

The mooring lines creaked with strain as the ship leaned away from the dock. The afternoon sea wind drove long translucent ripples up the harbor’s main channel, and pennants bearing the name SS Catalina whipped back and forth on short poles beside the gangway. The wind blew the old man’s hair where he stood silent in the line of high-spirited tourists. He ran one hand over his face, already doubting what he had undertaken, tired from standing in the sun. When the chain was dropped, he handed his ticket into the vacuum of a steward’s inattention, followed the others into the lounge, and sat down with a sigh of relief.

By Francesca Hampton