Sharon Pearl is a Spiritual Director who has chosen to act as a guide for people who are wanting to open to the Divine in their lives. She serves people of various faith traditions, although her own path is rooted in Judaism. I met her this past weekend at the MKP USAGE Gathering. (ManKind Project USA Gathering of Elders) as she led a workshop on spirituality. She began the session with nigunim which are wordless, ritual chants that ushered us into a feeling of the sacred. I brought my djembe and the two of us added drum beat rhythms to the mix. From that point, we explored, in small groups our own spiritual paths. She asked us to recall our first powerful spiritual memory. Mine came to me immediately. I was probably 6 or 7 and was sitting next to my father in synagogue for a High Holy Day service. He was wearing his tallis (prayer shawl) and I loved to play with the fringes. He wrapped one side of the garment around my shoulder and even though I didn’t have the words for it at the time, felt as if I was surrounded and protected by the Divine Masculine. Although the Judaism of my childhood focused on God as a male entity, there were mixed messages embedded in those concepts. The judgmental aspects (as taught in synagogue; not in my home) overshadowed the benevolent, nurturing qualities. I began to cry (not unusual over the past several months) as it occurred to me that perhaps that is the feeling I have been missing for most of my life as I distanced myself from allowing for intimacy with the Divine Masculine in ways that I have allowed for with the Divine Feminine. It also, at this moment, occurred to me that although women were not permitted to wear the prayer shawl at the time, he was setting the stage to encourage me to stretch religious boundaries. For that I honor him. All these years later, this ‘nice Jewish girl’ is an interfaith minister who does wear a tallis at times in synagogue.