Rosh Hashanah, finding ground and rootedness

Not until after this sort of breakthrough did I realize it was Rosh Hashanah.

The overwhelm has not really gone away but I notice in it a sort of longing.  Suddenly early this evening I found myself inexplicably attracted to Judaism and thinking, I need to find a synagogue. I want to remember my roots — which to some extent are Jewish. I feel like Judaism is really the only way I can connect with my roots both culturally and spiritually. Catholicism of my French and Italian ancestors is not so much rooted — it doesn’t feel as deep or connected to heritage, or like something I could really celebrate.

But with Judaism, not only do I feel rooted, I feel grounded. At least that’s my sense of it so early on. Now, Judaism in some ways reminds me of the Native path of walking in beauty, and the Buddhist appreciating what is — my idealized image of Buddhism is slowly sipping tea out of a nice mug while sitting by the river. Really what I appreciate about so many traditions are simplicity and apprecitation of beauty and finding power in that simplicity. The notion that the simplst action can change the world. That attracts me to Buddhism and also to Judaism.

I have felt vaguely Christian all my life but have never been quite sure what that meant. I didn’t know what it meant to live it. I love the Gospels but I need more than just following Jesus’ model. I needed some kind of active, deliberate practice — actions beyond simply guidance about how I should live my life. I needed something I could feel, guidelines if not strict rules regarding observances that might help me connect with the divine.

I like meditation and sweat lodges because they are participatory and creative practices. I haven’t really been able to find that in Christianity. Communion is about the closest to that that I can think of, but Judaism somehow fits me in ways other traditions do not, if not necessarily in terms of belief, then in terms of attitude and approach. Washing one’s sins away in a river… so many sensual aspects of Jewish life and ritual.

I think the sacredness of the Christian sabbath has often been lost by many, but in Judaism, it still seems very much alive, and not something done for God to be pious, but for our own enjoyment. Shabbat is a treat. The power of words and actions in Judaism, as I said, is beautiful to me. A sense of our innate goodness as people which doesn’t necessarily find itself in Christian tradition is important to me. The importance of awe in my life is very Jewish; the importance of enjoying and celebrating what is here to be enjoyed and celebrated.

Buddhist practices are valuable to me, but something is missing there: to be a Buddhist wouldn’t necessarily help me live every day in awe and wonder. So much of it, when it gets down to the no-self and all of that, is a bit confusing to me. It isn’t my culture, either. i suppose what is missing there is a place for my longing and a psychological approach that at least in some way resonates with my Western psyche. I love Buddhist practice, but to make it my entire life, there are certain needs of the Western psyche — or at least mine — that Buddhism doesn’t seem to address. Particularly, Buddhism just doesn’t give me those cultural and hereditary roots.

I’ve thought lately about spiritual community — that, in many ways, a reason to get involved in a particular tradition, for me, would be that I resonate with a community of people. I thought about Christianity. People like Thomas Merton and Howard Thurman and Matthew Fox could inspire me to be Christian but where are the communities built on their visions?

For a long time I have had nothing to say about who I am spiritually — quite a few years — it used to just overwhelm me and remind me that I didn’t know anything. Every time I tried to write about it, it came to nothing. But now I think I may be getting somewhere. I’m able to talk about it — not precisely about what I believe about the nature of the divine, but about the nature of the relationship I seek to have with the divine.


~ by dewiniaeth on September 30, 2008.

One Response to “Rosh Hashanah, finding ground and rootedness”

  1. No posts since 2008? Touched by your spiritual journey I found myself wondering where/how you are today. Your wisdom at the age of your last post impressed me. I was much older coming to spiritual truths.

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