I have suffered for years. I have endured betrayals and job losses and the pain of love and the absence of love. Seeing what others need and taking care of them comes naturally to me, but it doesn’t come as naturally to nurture my own needs. I have not been very good at being there for me.
Moments of redemptions do not promise the coming of the messianic age. They occur nevertheless, moments when the unimaginable occurs, even in the midst of darkness and death.
For all of the eleven months of the Jewish period of mourning and beyond, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to move beyond the unbearable pain I felt all the time. Of course, I was completely distraught—and the intensity of my agony corresponded to the magnitude of my love.
Reading the story of Jesus’s birth this past weekend, reciting part of the story in my Quaker meeting this past Sunday, reminded me once again that the Christmas story is the story of every mother, parent and child. Every baby is a savior. Every baby adds light to the world, hope in the darkness, a reminder of what matters. Babies help us brush away all the excess gunk in our minds and figure out what matters—new life, breath, and the all-too-quick passage of time.
In this multi-ethnic society, we don’t hear the term “melting pot” used anymore. But there are unstated assumptions that remain nevertheless. We see the other through the prism of our own view of reality.
It is thus no accident that Rabbi Waxman is the first woman and the first out lesbian to head a rabbinical school and a Jewish denomination in Jewish history. While this leap forward is not surprising, it is significant nevertheless. We often try to imagine what the world would be like if it were run by women, and Waxman’s inaugural address yesterday provided a clear taste of how gender can make a difference.
I’ve learned that traditions evolve. My Diwali is not my parent’s Diwali; my mother and father’s Diwali probably landed differently that their ancestor’s celebrations. But there is a unifying thread that connects these experiences together and lends to the definition of Diwali.
The God I believe in permeates the universe as the ground of all being. God is beyond human conception, so all our images and metaphors for God are a reflection of our human glimpses of that which is unfathomable. Unfathomable, but not undetectable, and definitely not irrelevant. How do I know that there is a God? I don’t. I can’t know what is beyond my ability to conceive. It’s a matter of faith. I have faith that there is more to reality than can be measured in a laboratory.
That morning, before we started our drive, I read an excerpt from Frederick Buechner’s writing. One passage resonated with me: “Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.” These tears often point the way to our next step on the journey.
Most of all, in uttering the words, “I need help,” a veil was lifted from over my eyes, and I saw again that I am part of a larger story, that I am not the author of the narrative of my life.