I asked my Grandma Ruth about religion, when I was first exploring my Judaism. “Religion is old-fashioned, it’s for greenhorns.” When her parents came to America from Russia, they were escaping religious persecution, yet they couldn’t get rid of their Jewish ways fast enough.
I was on a committee at my synagogue to find out how we could get more people excited about worship. We sent out a survey that asked people to prioritize the ways they related to their Judaism. The list had things like: Israel, kosher food, Jewish education and God. Much to my surprise, God figured in at the bottom of the heap. We looked a little deeper. It was the older generation who skewed the results. One comment was from a woman, who was then in her late 70’s: “God-Shmod – nonsense!” She was a Holocaust survivor. Like many from her generation, being Jewish was an identity without the sense of holiness so many younger than her were seeking.
We are now in a time period when the Holocaust is no longer a living-breathing reality, but a horrific chapter in a history book. Intermarriage has brought diversity to religion that would have been unheard of in my Grandma’s day. The Christians in my synagogue talk more about God than we Jews ever did and we’re starting to following their lead. Spirituality has made a comeback. We’re meditating and doing Yoga in the sacred spaces of our Temple. We’ve added nigguns, to our worship, wordless melodies that we sing to add joy to our prayers.
I’d like to fill my purse with nickels, from more people who claim to be spiritual. Being religious is no longer the requirement for having a meaningful relationship with a Higher Power. How wonderful when churches, synagogues and mosques embrace the spiritual, and eliminate religious dogma? A beautiful blending of all that we gain from religion and all that we gain from spirituality. It doesn’t have to be spirituality vs. religion. Prayer is the connecting link between the two, and for that I am grateful.
I clear the space that surrounds us.
I set aside the clutter of my day
so the chaos does not obstruct my view of You.
I clear myself.
I breathe out the weight of my ego
so my heart is opened to you.
I open my eyes.
I find you at my side,
waiting for my frantic mind
to settle finally on You.
joining in the sacred ceremony of our routine
in the quiet motions that still my wild heart.
It's time to be in this moment.
I am with You and nowhere else.