The Bliss Blog

Sitting in my comfy cozy bed on November 1st, 2018, pondering, as I do every day, the state of the world into which I was born 60 years ago. In my childhood, I felt safe and protected by loving parents, extended family, and friends of the family. I lived in a suburban South Jersey neighborhood near Philadelphia. I could hop on my bike in the morning, tool around town on a beautiful summer day, head to the pool, hang out with friends, come home for lunch, go to the local park, maybe the library. My parents rarely worried about my safety, knowing that I would be under the watchful eye of other parents since we were a community and took care of each other. I saw it modeled in the volunteering that my parents did at the local hospital, fire department and synagogue. My mom would offer her services at the hospital on Christmas and Easter at times so her Christian co-workers could take time off to be with their families. Each of them was what in the Jewish religion of my upbringing,  is referred to as a ‘mensch’ which translates to ‘good person’.

Back then I was also taught that God watches over us like a protective parent. I heard it in the liturgy and sermon delivered by various rabbis over the years in the synagogue and I believed it. Now, I’m not so sure.

As an interfaith minister and therapist, I am called on to answer questions that pull apart the fabric of human existence..the biggie is “How could God let this happen?”  War, abuse, accidents, the death of children, natural disasters….the list is endless. My answer remains the same for now, “What if God doesn’t make anything happen? What if God doesn’t prevent anything from happening?” Why, then do we pray? How do some prayers seem to be answered in our favor? How do some prayers seem to be responded to in polar opposition to our declared intention and desires? Clearly, this tests my faith.

I look back at traumatic events in my own life, such as the deaths of my husband and parents, the destruction of our home in Hurricane Andrew and numerous illnesses from which I have recovered in the past five years. From each incident, I have connected with my own inner wisdom, strength, and resilience. From each incident, I have compiled a toolkit from which I can pull to help others. All gifts.

On this day, I, like many throughout the world are attempting to make sense of recent events. Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones were gunned down by hatred in Kentucky while shopping. Joyce Feinburg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Robinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax,  and Irving Yunger, were gunned down by hatred while worshipping in a Pittsburgh neighborhood synagogue. Prominent Democrats and those who challenge this administration were sent pipe bombs intended for special delivery, fueled by hatred.

Where was God on those days? Was S/he casually sitting in the Celestial Cinema, popcorn in hand, watching to see how the movie unfolds? Is S/he the director or are we?

I happen to believe that the personal is universal and vice versa. Even though I have no direct connection with anyone who was killed, it still impacts me because they are part of my human family. In my own immediate circles are people in treatment for various illness and injuries, who are facing their own traumas and pain. In my therapy practice are people who are abuse survivors, who are dealing with mental health diagnoses and addiction. With each of these folks, I hold space for their healing. I have experienced a sense of loving detachment that initially was alarming because I thought I was numbing out and repressing my feelings. My dear friend/mentor/mama figure, Yvonne Kaye reminded me over pumpkin pancakes yesterday morning that it was self-protective since, in order for me to be there for those who need me, I need to take care of myself. This was one way to do it. Good self-care includes getting rest, going to the gym (which I will be doing shortly), crying when the impulse to do so arises, spending time with kindred spirits, hugging, being in nature, prayer, meditation, writing and oh yes, questioning everything.


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