Ruach HaKodesh

This is my response to the weekly Friday Fictioneers prompt. Every week writers from around the world share their 100-word stories based on a photo prompt chosen by our amazing leader, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who happens also to have taken this week’s photo. Play along if you dare!

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Ruach HaKodesh

Whenever Gayle sees art nouveau craftsmanship, she smells the old plaster, sawdust, sweat and incense lingering in the defunct synagogue where she first learned to dance. Much was new to her then—adulthood, the names of Adonai, the pulse of sacred movement.

Change, like a dancer’s form on stage, will ever be life’s only constant. The 25-year-old Gayle guessed at this. The 45-year-old Gayle knows it better than most. In Kansas City, the synagogue still stands—leased to another fringe group of devotees. Alone in her suburban home, Gayle makes a selection on her iPod, and the Spirit moves her.


Author’s Note: It bears mentioning that this photo struck a deep chord with me–a chord that led to a story that may be uncomfortable to some of you whom I know in real life. Whether or not you recognize the setting, I hope you can understand that some good comes from all things. There are more reasons than I can possibly put into words for me to write and post this particular story today. The life of a dancer can be complicated.

44 thoughts on “Ruach HaKodesh

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    Some of us understand your story better than others. I’ve yet to be able to put my own take on this to print. I’m sending you a hug and perhaps one day we’ll dance together again. Beautifully done.



    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Rochelle,
      Hugs back at you! Yes! We shall dance together again–even if we have to push back the tables in my dining room and make a selection on the iPod some afternoon.

      Marie Gail

  2. Sandra says:

    Profound. I won’t pretend I understand though I enjoyed reading it.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Sandra. I sort of feel as though I should apologize for posting something this esoteric today. Without the author’s note, I suppose it wouldn’t be as mysterious. Suffice it to say that there is more fact than fiction here, and some days, all I want to do is go back there and dance again.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  3. Vinay Leo R. says:

    I guessed, and your comment to Sandra clarified that I guessed right. It’s wonderful how easily memories can be evoked by something as simple as a picture. The story was expressive.

    • storydivamg says:

      There are many means of expression, Vinay, and I am blessed more than any person aside from myself can ever know to have been given the opportunity to express myself in movement as well as in words. At my birth, there was some doubt as to whether I would ever walk properly. I’m not sure I really dance “properly,” but I have certainly found a deep joy in dance nonetheless.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  4. I saw how life brings changes.. some are felt as losses, hope there are compensations.

  5. elmowrites says:

    Although I don’t know the background, I could feel the emotion in this story, and I definitely agree that sometimes we need to write something for ourselves, even if it doesn’t mean as much to everyone else.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Jen. I did what I perhaps should have done at the beginning and moved the author’s note to the end. Left to its own devices, I think the story is less esoteric than I may have originally feared.

      All my best,

  6. A young man that went to school with my oldest son posted on Facebook yesterday “when do you give up on your dreams?” I know that he has always wanted to be an artist. He fell n love and works as an auto mechanic providing his half of the good life he shares with his wife and her children. Your story reminds me of this.

    • storydivamg says:

      I hope you told him the answer: “Never.” Of course, part two of that answer is “never ever,” and part three is “Dreams should never perish before we do, but they often grow and change along with us.” I could never have predicted the amazingly happy life I have today–always planned on being a more traditional grownup–but I have learned that most of my dreams are in the process of coming true–just not in the ways or on the time table I once expected.

  7. A beautiful nostalgic tale. Yes, you must write what speaks to your heart, always!

  8. micklively says:

    The idea of a simple object triggering complex memories rings so true. Well done.

  9. I found your piece moving despite not getting it all. I read the comments and googled a few bits and got some feel, but couldn’t find any tension around Kansas City synagogues, although, as with most religions, there will be issues. Your phrase “fringe group of devotees” paints a huge canvas.
    Hope you do get to dance again with friends.

    • storydivamg says:

      I spent hours googling the name of the actual synagogue as well as it’s location after I wrote this, but to no avail. I even searched for some of the individuals who were involved in the dance and celebration events, trying to find some pictures to help me relive the moments that were wonderful. No luck there either.

      But I have had conversations with 2 dancers from those times over the past 2 days, and relationships are far more important than pictures in the long run. Chances are that actual photos would disappoint me anyway.

  10. draliman says:

    Lots of nostalgia triggered by the sight of an object – there must have been strong memories made at the synagogue.

  11. k rawson says:

    Gorgeous. Even without understanding the specifics, this was poignant and sweet.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you. After all these years, I think this is the first time I’ve written about anything that occurred in that 6-year time span in a way that could be even remotely understood by outsiders. I’m generally more of a thinker than a feeler, but a story like this is heavy with emotion.

  12. Clearly written from a deep place within your heart…

  13. rgayer55 says:

    I don’t pretend to get it either, but could feel the emotion coming through, and I have a deep appreciation for that.

  14. Liz Young says:

    Lovely haunting piece. Although I am among those who don’t understand your reference, I can feel the pain. Sending love through the internet waves.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Liz. The beauty of dance was breathtaking. The pain of broken relationships was as well. The healing that I have found makes me hopeful that we can some day bring heaven to earth.

      All my best,

  15. DeeDee says:

    Nice take on the prompt

  16. Melanie says:

    Even without your postscript, I felt chills from this. The depth is profound.

  17. Very moving, MG. Without the note, I felt the bitter sweetness of life’s changes and time’s passage. The photo prompt touches each of us in uniquely personal ways; how we write it down is a reflection of that. Nicely done!

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Dawn. For six years, I spent between 20 and 40 hours a week either in the former synagogue or working to get things ready for a performance that would be held there. The chandeliers there were much like this one, and I do think of that place every time I see an art nouveau building.

  18. Margaret says:

    The special seasons in our lives are always there under the surface, and you’ve turned one of yours into a work of art that speaks to others. Beautifully told.

  19. bykimberlylynne says:

    It’s a privilege to be allowed a glimpse into another person’s heart. You’ve done that with the world today.

  20. gahlearner says:

    I didn’t understand it either, but your story expresses the joys and pains of coming of age, and the bitter-sweet memories of an adult. It feels very special to see how deeply this prompt affected you. We don’t need to get it to appreciate it. Thank you.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks for your kind comments. I’m beginning to realize that in language, there can come across a sense of emotion that translates even across cultures. Pretty cool. Thanks for helping me begin to see this.

  21. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear MG, Excellent as always and you amaze me with your ability to turn a picture into drama, art, laughter and every other emotion known to us. You are a encyclopedia of knowledge and I really enjoy your writing! I like gahlearner’s message (above) and feel like some of this too. I cannot imagine what the Jewish people had to go through to try and stay alive with the evil Nazi’s. God bless you all! Thanks for being you! Nan

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Nan!

      Actually, I’m a Gentile and a Catholic, but I have many Jewish friends–some Messianic, some reform, a couple Orthodox. I spent several years dancing with both Jews and Gentiles in an ecumenical performing arts group. This story was born from those memories.

      All my best,

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