My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room, ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”
Call me naïve, but I really thought that when I became Jewish, people would understand what that meant. Continue reading “Divergent journeys”
Note: As part of my conversion process, my rabbi requires that I write my religious autobiography, which is made up of a series of essays. I’m posting these essays here, as well, to share my journey. I’m nearing the end of this process and will soon meet the beit din (rabbinical court) who will decide my Jewish “fate.” If my request for conversion is approved, I’ll then enter the mikveh and, when I emerge, I do so as a Jew.
Here is my first essay in the series, which is all about what compelled me to make this decision.
When starting out on my faith journey in my early twenties, I carried with me the God of my youth. This God was one that, if my prayers were sincere enough, my heart true enough, and my deeds good enough, would grant whatever it was that I wanted. If my prayers weren’t answered, it was because I had sinned or had fallen short of God’s plan for me. God was like a magical ATM in the sky, dispensing money, happiness, and an occasional new car to those that were worthy and devout.
Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:
Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”
Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”
Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”
Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”
Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*
Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”
Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”
Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!
“Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.” – Mother Mary Angelica
The quote above is one that has stuck with me for almost a decade. Mother Angelica, a cloistered Franciscan nun who became the founder of EWTN, the global Roman Catholic television network, died today at age 92. It is fitting that a woman as devout and holy as she would pass on the day of the resurrection of her Lord.
I left the Catholic Church years ago, and anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m not in a good place with Christianity and the faith and beliefs I’ve held my entire life, especially since I’m considering converting to Judaism, but saying goodbye to this extraordinary woman hurts.
Well, 2016 is in full swing, holiday vacations are over, and it’s back to the grind. Somehow, two and a half weeks have passed since I last posted and I don’t know where the time went.
This post is hard for me to write, but it’s a long time coming.
I’ve spent the last several years on a spiritual journey, and I’ve ended up in a lot of dark corners, dead ends, and places that feel suspiciously like Knockturn Alley (from the Harry Potter universe.) I always enter a new part of my journey hoping with a sincere heart that, this time, I might find the answers I seek. So far, though, I only end up with more questions or, as I’m facing now, total disgust in the journey itself.
I’ve made many posts about my spiritual journey (here, here, here, and here just to select a few) so I’m not going to rehash all of it. To boil where I’ve been so far down to a single sentence, let me just say that I’ve been from one end of Christianity to another and, through all of it, I have continued to try to be a good Christian because that’s what’s expected of me. I’m from the Midwest, where conversations about Jesus flow as frequently as discussions on corn prices and the state of the summer crops. Being a Christian is expected. Asking someone where they go to church is as normal as asking about the weather. However, the reality is that I’ve reached the end of the line now and it’s time to make some changes. To put it simply: I’m out.
As I walked into the grocery store this morning, I noticed that I was following a uniquely-dressed older woman. She had on a long, loose cotton dress, which was slightly cinched at the waist and accented with simple white shoes. Her grey hair was artfully twisted and secured into a bun with several shiny barrettes. Continue reading “Standing for something”