Anybody who went through the 2005 Federal Flood became comfortable with “re” glommed onto whatever word you can think of – it was reNew Orleans, refresh, rebuild, relive around here for quite some time. This year will be ten years that we are commemorating what happened down here.
In ten years, though the Flood was epic, it pales in comparison to other events in my life that have caused upheaval and the need to pull from my own faith in order to get up off my knees and keep walking. From divorce, heart ache, death, loss, adoption, being fired, starting a business, building then leaving my dream home, and learning to be alone – the flood was a cake walk by all accounts.
Last year, during the Jewish High Holidays, I was sitting in the synagogue that I had joined to bring up my son in the Jewish faith, when I saw a quote by Elie Wiesel that said, “The secret that God gave Adam in the garden was not how to begin, but how to begin again.” This struck me because it was the lesson that I would have to learn over and over and over again.
Yesterday, I attended a Jewish renewal gathering at a friend’s house. Jewish renewal is a topic that first came to my attention while reading Rodger Kamenetz’s The Jew in the Lotus. I came to this book after attending the Zen center to learn meditation more deeply after trying to reconcile my Judaism with my new found love of Buddhism.
Jewish Re-newal – the “re” word again – rewind, redo, rework, renew. The first part of our sabbath service was the introduction to morning prayer in its most meaningful form – waking up to aliveness, honoring creation, the prayer for starting over (always), the acknowledgement of living in a universe of Love, and (this was new to me) the realization that we should never, ever be ashamed. We have the grace to renew each day.
This gathering was to go over the 24-hour cycle of what Jewish spiritual life looks like – not just a Sabbath worship, but a way to begin and end a day, any day. It’s a lifestyle, not a religion, not a culture, but a way of being – or re-being.
The cycle of renewal, forgiveness, acceptance, love is the offer of grace I have been seeking. To begin again, is what my adult mind and heart have had to grasp so many times, so many times that sometimes I’m weary, exhausted, and depleted. Like everyone else, I have sought to replenish my soul in ways that have only strained it more. Where to lay my head? I wonder so often to myself.
I’ve been following this crumb trail of soul food for a few years now, and I’m now in the third year of finding most of what I want already deep inside me. In essence, it is re-me. Re-Rachel. And what’s in there is a renewable resource. Who knew?