I moved down the street from First Grace, a church that brought together a white and black congregation after the 2005 Federal Flood and has the best marquee in town.
I’ve been isolated in my head too much lately and I desire community. When I started working at Off the Record in 1999, I met people I admired and enjoyed and they made work seem like a nonstop party. Then some of those people left, some were changed by money and success, and some remained dear but grew distant.
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve been through a lot of changes in my life in the last decade and with those changes I’ve seen in myself the ability to give up on people and situations that no longer fit my evolution, but in the wake of all that has been left behind and the reframing of what is, I’ve wanted to once again work, think, and play with people that nourish and nurture as well as challenge me and feed my soul.
The church on the corner, First Grace, has intrigued me, but what would I, a Jew be doing in a church, I ask you? Well, the synagogues in this town are old school and don’t have much ALEPH about them, as in what Rodger Kamenetz writes about in the Jew in the Lotus – ALEPH is about Jewish renewal and about embracing spirituality not just doctrine.
I was speaking to another mother about this and she said that she wishes she could find that temple too but when she went to First Grace all she found was too much Jesus.
For the first 50 years of my life, Jesus was not at my table, but now I listen and find myself open to many aspects of spirituality that I would never have considered in the past. That doesn’t mean I want to go to church though, no more than it means I want to be davening in a temple.
My best Sunday mornings have been spent on my bike riding to the lakefront or at the Zen Center down the street meditating and participating in the dharma talks afterwards. I don’t ever feel as if it is too much Buddha, but then again I never mistake Buddha for God.
I walked Heidi into City Park this morning just as the rain started falling and there in that space, with the raindrops bouncing off the dark waters of the lagoon, where two swans bent their long graceful necks to preen their feathers, I found God once again and my place of worship.
Last night, I had turned off Luther – the mini series on BBC that I’m trying to catch up on so I can see the current third season – because as it usually does, this episode began with disturbing violence. I finished my New York Times, and went to bed reading the Inward Revolution, which I started a few days ago. I closed my eyes in the silence of my empty house (Tin was sleeping at Tatjana’s) and I felt discomfort with the quiet.
I spent the next thirty minutes slaying dragons – much like Tin had done in school this week as they are re-enacting the story of Michael and his slaying of the dragon to teach early childhood kids about battling their own dark demons as the light fades from our days.
There in City Park, as the demons receded, I found a fortune cookie fortune that someone had dropped on the ground: “Do you see difficulty behind every opportunity, or opportunity behind every difficulty?”
Quick – answer that question – I knew my answer without any hesitation. I see opportunity.
I continued to walk through my spiritual landscape with rain drops falling on my hairless head – as I approached the bustling intersection, I noticed women running and to and fro getting out of the rain, protecting their hair, and I smiled.
This morning, I asked someone to partner with me on my new venture and the answer was a resounding yes. I don’t know what would be too much Jesus or not enough in my life, but I do know that finding what fits your individual life, your own soul’s needs, and letting that in to feed your spirit is what every devout person seeks.
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913