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As I understand….

June 14, 2010

I offer this not to preach – but as a courtesy to those of you who follow this blog. It is meant as a personal statement only. I welcome any discussion that reflects your own relationship to the source of creative energy in the universe.

I do not think the world’s religions as we know them offer an adequate explanation for or representation of the divine. We do not, I believe, have a mind capable of wrapping itself around infinity. We have evolved in our thinking to be able to handle complexities that were out of the range of our ancestors, but I believe we are still evolving.

World religions are based on and arguably stuck in the ‘not nearly as highly evolved state’ of the sages of their days. So when I own Judaism as the language and structure of my conversation about and with the divine, it is only the “baby talk” I am using to place myself in a universal family of origin.

That spirit or longing that seeks to understand the unknowable in myself, others and the world is the god of my understanding. God as a father or king doesn’t work for me. How could the divine be either masculine or feminine? I experience this unknown in the way of the complementary yin and yang described in the eastern traditions.

So why would an Irish/Italian American reared Roman Catholic use the language of Judaism? Simply the love and example of a couple who gave this little loved child the wherewithal to wake up and put one foot in front of the other every day. Their example carried me lovingly when my own family did not.

They were survivors of the Shoah. They left Europe and the camps alone. They found each other, and had one daughter, she was my mother’s best friend. Rose knew the horror of burying children, those of her first life and then the girl who was my mother’s friend; she succumbed to breast cancer in her forties. Rose and her daughter had already institutionalized a schizophrenic granddaughter/daughter.  Abe and Rose did not have a happily ever after.

They did always have enough, and they gave much to me. I believe in the way of the universe – as distilled in the teachings of the Jewish sages, that by exercising the commandment to do every day an act of mitzvot – loving kindness; tzedaka – charity; and tikkun olam – an effort to restore the earth/world – they effected a healing for themselves.

By simply living their lives “jewishly”, unconsciously focused on these commandments as a way of life, they brought healing to the world. Perhaps not directly theirs, but mine.

They left behind parents, siblings, and children – their DNA – in the camps. Today three little girls and I, their mother now say Kaddish* for them – they are not forgotten. Their gene pool is not preserved but – who they were and what was important about how they lived goes on.

I don’t believe in a god. I believe I don’t understand the divine. I worship the creator of the universe by practicing the teaching that “we are not commanded to finish the task, nor are we excused from the work”. I do not judge one rule book or game plan as right or wrong, good or bad, I just know that to be available to good in the world I have to make room for it. Unless the divine can inform me personally and expand my grey matter to understand it, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other – in the  way Abe and Rose modeled. It has worked so far….

And I happily reflect every sabbath – usually every day – “Blessed is the Lord, God, ruler of the universe for giving us life, for sustaining us and for enabling us to reach this season”. I say this prayer of gratitude by rote in Hebrew, a language I do not understand. That is a gift. I don’t struggle with the inadequacy of language, but I am able to express my thanks that I have lived abundantly for this long.

*Kaddish is a prayer that praises God and expresses a yearning for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. The emotional reactions inspired by the Kaddish come from the circumstances in which it is said: it is recited at funerals and by mourners, it is the way we honour the memory of those who have gone before us.


Comments (2)

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  1. Pat Carroll says:

    Nice thought provoking piece ,Eve.

    • Eve says:

      Thanks for this – when I stumbled on to the work of Tangible Ireland, Ray Sexton and now yours as evidenced by – I am heartened that there are others out there with an intuitive understanding of “we are not commanded to finish the task, nor are we excused from the work”. Lovely to have found vocal fellow travelers…