The Liminality Journal
The Liminality Journal
Her Magnetic Heart

Her Magnetic Heart

a poem & voice memo on shalom's depth & our oneness

I wrote this poem in the front window of a Starbucks in Atlanta. I remember it. I remember where I write a lot of my poems, though huge chunks of my books are lost on me.

So technically, it’s part of the Somebody That I Used to Know series, but it’s also a poem I want to re-introduce to the world. The most depressing and magic thing about writing, about poetry and story, is that decades can pass and the same words you wrote back when can remain true.

Cycles often repeat—war, turmoil, the changing of the seasons, life and death, grief and celebration. Whatever it is, our human existence on Mother Earth is marked by such things, and we cannot seem to escape it.

I don’t remember why exactly I wrote this poem, but it was likely born out of grief that the world hurts, that we hurt each other. Whatever was happening then, the words fit perfectly into this time as if they were meant to be in 2022, and that’s the terror, and that’s the magic.

So, here’s a poem for us, and I’ve even recorded it for you, so you can listen to it if you’d like.


I won’t be adding commentary to this poem, because I think enough Christians have been writing and talking about shalom without properly understanding its depth and meaning. I’ve been guilty of it too, and I’m learning along the way what appreciation and appropriation are and how we handle this on all levels, with mistakes and commitments to do better.

So I’ll add these words I found from Rabbi David Zaslow about the real depth and meaning of shalom:

If I am a political left-winger I am only flying with one wing. If I am a political right-winger I am only flying with one wing; yet it takes two wings for an eagle to fly. It takes the integration of two opposing positions for there to be real “shalom.” The word dialogue comes from the Greek “dia + logos” meaning “across words,” or “across reason,” or “speech that goes back and forth.” It’s easy to have a left wing or a right wing “peace rally” with people who already agree with us. But this is not the wholeness that is implied in the word “shalom.”

In the Hebraic view, shalom brings the binary mind together, integrating the left brain modality of thinking (linear) and the right brain modality (intuitive). When I say hello to someone I say “shalom.” When I say goodbye to someone I say “shalom.” What is more opposite than coming and going? Hello and goodbye? Shalom is the most radical union of opposites imaginable. Shalom brings together people who disagree with each other so that each will listen deeply to the “other” side. It is the people you do not agree with who have the greatest gift for you – the gift of the potential for wholeness.

When I searched “shalom” on Getty Images, these are some of the photos that appeared:

Now, I don’t know much about search algorithms, but shalom is about bringing wholeness, bringing seemingly opposite things or beings together. So, shalom is an embodiment of all things holding their sacredness—together. Shalom is all of these photos and so much more.

Shalom has a magnetic heart, as the title of my poem goes.

I hope you enjoy this poem, and may we lean deeper into wholeness however it shows up for us.

Shalom, her magnetic heart

You and I are "other" to each other,

foreign creatures,

locked in our independent skin.

You and I, we're unnerved

when we're together,

we're fractured, disconnected,

thin as moth-wing.

And yet, the same stuff

that tears us from each other

gravitates us to each other,

and all along,

the earth keeps spinning

to help us shake the

regret-dust from

our shoulders.

I cannot assume you,

and you cannot assume me.

And yet, we began in the same

womb of thought,

the same dream of beginning.

We started and we will end,

and in between we can

detonate bombs


unmake them;

We can tighten the noose


make climbing ropes;

We can pull triggers


bury our weapons

beneath the trees

in our city parks

and let our


grow out of their

metal mouths.

You and I are "other" to each other,

but desperate enough to invade

these spaces--

desperate enough to fill up the

missing places,

patch up the broken links,

re-engage where we've


Shalom-- She is a sacred word,

an everlasting act.

Shalom-- She is an enduring

vision on the

darkest night,

and that magnet-force that keeps

fighting against our




because she puts us

always back

where we were before--

hand in hand by the fire.

Shalom-- She knows us better.

Shalom-- She binds together the

blistered souls,

and we quiet ourselves,

eyes locked,

all "otherness" dissipated

in a stream of

perfect light.

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The Liminality Journal
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