Photo by Nate Embrey

Do you know what faith is? Are you religious or do you follow the traditions of religion because it is more of a family tradition? For many people religion and faith is a hot topic. And like most hot topics, we writers love to dip into the heat and pull out something to write about.

I struggle with religion and the concept of G*D and belief systems. But I find that I have a passion for the concept of religion and faith in spite of the fact that I don't always feel like I am grounded in one particular path.  So I like to write about it, like a conversation with my soul to check in to see where it's going. Here's what happens when I write about faith and making that connection. Enjoy.  ~ C ~

When you feel it… you'll know

When you really feel your faith connecting with your soul, you’ll know how people fall in love. It’s overwhelming when it happens, as if your entire soul has woken up to pay attention.  I’ve felt it there, this place that I’ve claimed as mine, for now.  The walls whisper the songs of generations standing upon the shoulders of others and all reaching up to the heavens. It welcomes me each with warm comforting arms like a mother with a child to her breast.  I want to be there and soak it all in for as long as I can.

There are times when I slip away from the conversations of others and the gathered groups to slide into the aisle of the sanctuary and close my eyes to feel the spirit of this hall wash over me. My eyes close as I allow the calm and quiet in.  It is there I am able to hear so much better. Do you talk with your Highest One or do you recite the prayers printed on the paper tablets with no thought or meaning simply because that is what you are required to do?

When you talk, do you take time to listen and wait for the answer or are you so ready to be finished with this duty that you don’t have time to listen to the conversation?  There, I sit and I wait. I hold this time dear and in the silence I feel as if the conversation is as beautiful as any song ever heard.  I have my own way, as I assume you have yours.  My relationship with G*D isn’t a difficult one, well.. not anymore.  We have passed that stage now and we have recovered from the time when we did not speak with each other, left behind the days when neither of us liked what the other had to say, and moved to a time of peace as a child does with a parent when you let go your rebellion and accept that perhaps you weren’t right after all.

At first I wasn’t sure, stepping through the doors and waiting for something to prove to me that I didn’t belong there.  I wasn’t one of them, a stranger to the customs even after witnessing them from other temples and various family gatherings. I was not against them; in fact I had fallen in love with the faith through my husband’s inspiring conveyance of his beliefs.  He had become my teacher and together we found that we weren’t that far apart in beliefs. We had common ideas and came to enjoy new ideas together. As our children grew older and we wanted to find a place for to attend religious school, we knew we needed to find a structure that felt right for everyone.

Those first few days and months weren’t easy.  It wasn’t the people, they didn’t know me and had no reason to get to know me, and they had their own problems. They needed to be encouraged to accept change, but stubbornly held tight.  I gave in to the idea that this was just how it was, no need to worry about it.  I spent as little time there as I had to.  Drop off, pick up, on and on. I stayed away from the negativity and kept my ears out of the gossip.

I can’t say exactly when it happened, sort of taking it’s time.  I know that the first days began with a new voice speaking of change and reaching out and extending a smile. As a new Rabbi to the community, he was trying hard but still trying to figure this place out. He looked at the crowds as I did often, a moment of concern and nervous tension. Introverted and yet aware of his goals, he stepped up in front of judgment and waited for them to accept him.  There was so much going against him; few wanted what he was trying to offer.  I related to that feeling of being an outsider, I gave him a chance and was rewarded by his kind smile and silly jokes.

When you feel it.. you’ll know.  The spirit of faith slowly returned to the synagogue and moved through the halls like The Bride seeking her Beloved, but it took time and change.  When I felt it, I knew.. the Spirit was returning to the people and it danced with the Cantor and laughed with the Rabbi, it could not be missed as it swept through the classrooms now filling with children.  She was here, pulling the willing to her breast to sooth the hurt of those who were ready to give up their pain to her. He knew the answers if one were ready to hear his advice. I was both, ready to let go of my hurt and accept change.

Sometimes change is painful, it is letting go of the past and accepting that there are better things in store for the future. There will always be a few who hold on to that pain and anger so tightly and refuse to allow the change to rinse over them and wash away all of that. They hold on and generate new anger at those who want the change to heal.  But it’s ok, I know that they are just human too. I can only say that this is MY safe place, MY temple, and I want to be part of this beautiful thing.  We are strong when we learn to forgive and be patient.  That however doesn’t mean that we have to take the anger on our own, we don’t have to be pushed around by those who have forgotten how to be polite.

Ready for a little happiness, I have found a place where I belong.  I love walking into this place and feeling the joy that comes from the people who have chosen to accept the return of the Spirit of Judaism to our synagogue.


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