I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
On my way home from the gym (a place that I consider my temple, ashram, and healing space), I was listening to an interview on Fresh Air with Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, a sister clergy person. An ordained Episcopal priest, she left the pulpit to become a professor of religion at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. She has taken her love of Spirit to the classroom and beyond in her newly released book called Holy Envy.
The conversation was an exploration into what it means to be spiritual from the perspective of others who don’t practice as we do. As an ordained interfaith minister, who graduated from The New Seminary in New York City in 1999, I was fascinated with Brown Taylor’s take on the Divine. As a ‘nice Jewish girl,’ I grasped something for the first time when she said that the Shema (the signature prayer in Judaism) focused on the word ‘hear’ as an essential aspect of prayer. Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad, traditionally translated to ‘Hear, oh Israel, The Lord Our God, the Lord Is One’. My favorite translation comes from Rabbi Rami Shapiro and affirms, “Hear Oh Israel, that which we call God is Oneness Itself’. We are accustomed, according to Brown Taylor to think of prayer as speaking, when it is at least equally a function of listening. She also reinforced her learning that Judaism is about more than belief, but rather about action. For me, that rings true since Tikkun Olam (the repair of the world) was part and parcel of what I was taught. Charity and volunteerism was part of my childhood, as modeled by my parents.
I don’t dismiss the importance of action AND I know that it is based on belief at its foundation. What do I believe?
- People come from Source at birth (call it God, Spirit, Oneness All That Is).
- At the end of life, we return to Source.
- We need not affiliate with any particular teaching, including one stating that God exists.
- Atheists and Agnostics have valid beliefs.
- If good works are based on the fear of spiritual recrimination or reward, then they are not genuine.
- Conscience can be taught.
- Peace of mind is an inside job.
- Nothing lasts forever in the form it is in, which echoes with the teachings of Buddhism.
- People are inherently kind and loving.
- Religion is meant to unite and not divide.
- To those who claim to be Christian and hurl venom to those of different faiths, I ask, Who would Jesus hate?
- It is important to use my gifts to communicate love and not fear.
- Prayer is more than petitioning something outside of us for favor, but rather merging energies with others to bring about a positive outcome.
- Love heals.
- That having ‘God-versations’ with Source keeps me grounded.
- Despite appearances, the Highest Good prevails.
H0w do I put legs under my beliefs?
- Hugging strangers as a Hugmobster Armed With Love
- Volunteering in my community
- Practicing forgiveness of myself and others
- Cleaning up my side of the street in relationships
- Offering prayers for those who ask
- Refraining from gossip, unless it is positive
- Asking for guidance
- Practicing ahimsa
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