“The old familiar story told in different ways; Make the most of your own journey from the cradle to the grave;Dream your dreams tomorrow because today, life must go on
But there’s more to this life than living and dying, more than just trying to make it through the day;more to this life, more than these eyes alone can see, and there’s more than this life alone can be.”
The above lyrics are from Steven Curtis Chapman’s “More to This Life,” the title track to his 1989 album.
I discovered this song probably sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. I was heavily into contemporary Christian music then, and this song resonated with me. It remained in my top five favorite songs right up until I walked away from Christianity (and its music) more than five years ago.
I’m not going to lie – this Christmas season was hellish for me. For one, I obviously don’t celebrate the holiday and when it’s shoved down my throat everywhere, I get irritated. Anyone who says there’s a “war on Christmas” and that people don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore has never been a Jew in December. I used to respond with, “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it,” but now I just smile, nod, and walk away. It’s not my holiday, it’s not something I believe in, but I know people are just trying to be kind and spread holiday cheer so I move on. It’s not a battle I feel like fighting.
But mostly, this season was horrendous because I used to celebrate Christmas and so many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in the holiday. Now, when I think about those memories, I think of my father and my younger brother and the spike of pain that stabs me through the heart is almost unbearable. At every turn, I’m reminded of loss this time of year. It makes for dark times during a dark period on the calendar (at least in the Pacific Northwest!)Continue reading “On grief and Jewishness during the holiday season”→
Services start at 10am and they end around 6pm (this is for our shul (synagogue), many others will have different schedules), with small breaks in between. Those who are able should also fast from sundown the night before until the fast is “broken” after Havdalah (the service that ends “holy time” celebrated at the end of Shabbat and holidays) at the “end” of Yom Kippur. This means that a person is sitting through hours of services while thirsty and hungry. (Full disclosure: I was unable to fast this year because my blood sugar is very wonky right now, and I’ve had far too many issues/episodes lately. So, I ate lightly and small to regulate my blood sugar.)
Yom Kippur is also beautiful. It is edifying to come together as a community, pray with other Jews the same prayers being said throughout the Jewish world. The sanctuary is packed to the gills, familiar and new faces both plentiful. We start at the beginning of the Machzor (our prayer book used for High Holy Days) and at the end of the day, we will have reached the end, some 600+ pages later.
I am always filled with a sense of renewal and excitement during the Days of Awe*. Granted, the High Holy Days* usually occur in early fall, when the temperatures are dropping, the rains are returning, and the leaves are beginning their transition. Considering Fall is my favorite season here in the Pacific Northwest, when it’s combined with the High Holy Days, it brings an unbeatable combination of rejuvenation, hope, and purpose into my life.
I’ve been really terrible about blogging lately. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone cares about anything I have to say, so I wonder why I continue to maintain this blog. Granted, I’ve had it for ten years, and I always hope my life will suddenly become insanely interesting and I’ll have no choice but to chronicle my life on here.
But, alas…right now, I’m quite boring. And I keep the blog alive because… well… because.
Up until about three weeks ago, we had a Star of David prominently displayed on the front of our house by our front door. (A picture of it is in this post.) I’m Jewish, my husband is in the process of converting to Judaism – I’m proud of our Jewish home. But three weeks ago, something very disturbing happened and it was a reminder that I’m in a very different place from where I once was.