Monday, March 10, 2008

Egg shaking

The hardest thing to do was to shake the Shabbot egg and sing in Hebrew all at once. But, there I was, alone, near the back, near the sunny windows of the bright synagogue, trying hard to participate in an old Jewish rite: Bat Mitzva. My friend's thirteen year old daughter glowed, particularly when carrying around the Torah in a cloth around the warm, small, bright sanctuary. My friend spoke about the Jewish sense of community and how it had wrapped itself around his daughter, and how her deceased mother had converted to Judaism on the same day many years before. My friend's love interest wiped her eyes one row over in front of me. The ceremony was long, three hours, intense, joyous, mournful (chant for dead), and family-involved with aunts, uncles, cousins arising to read parts of the Torah on their "daughter of the commandments" behalf. The cultural conviction of a spiritual value was high; I felt peaceful. I wondered if, location different, I would attribute this to the Holy Spirit. But, in a Jewish synagogue? I wondered about the relativity of religious belief. I inwardly reaffirmed belief in Christ, although the spiritual expression in front of me impressed me with its call upward to an old Light, to God, to a way of Life. The prayer book was lovely with interpretive readings, poems, insights to which I felt extremely compatible. I wondered about the expressive depths of my Christian heritage, particularly as a "low-church" attendee. It seemed awfully lacking, shallow, reliant upon one's own emotions which often were tangled anyway. The Bible, yes, yet, the Bible used for certain agendas, certain formulas for thinking. Here, certain sacraments were holy, sacred, a bit like the Catholic church. Perhaps they have the same issues of the Catholic church -- rites becoming meaningless with overuse and lack of personal attachment? But, my friend's 13 year old daughter said in her speech that this would not mean for her "rites without personal meaning." We all reach, don't we?

My friend gave me a hug afterwards as he received the congratulations of his friends and family. He is a good person and lives his cultural faith well.

I affirm my belief in Christ, yet I could have easily been born Jewish, believing that the Judaic version of truth passed down from Abraham is the Truth. What do others do with this thought? Perhaps it affirms their selection into a God-ordained slot; perhaps we all want to believe exclusivity.

No comments: