By Rabbi Diane Rose| May 31, 2016
Reprinted with permission from coolshul.org
Close your eyes…
Oh, wait. If you close your eyes you won’t be able to read this. Okay, read this, try to remember it, and then close your eyes.
Imagine you are standing before God.
Pause! I heard that. Those voices in your head that say no to the idea of God just spoke up. Those knee-jerk reactions that tug at our hearts and minds and wrinkle our brows with dismissive contempt just woke up. That intellectual side (you know, that side loves Bill Maher), just hollered that it’s silly to even entertain a notion such as God. And that internal conflict recalling every zealot and extremist who has ever used the word “God” to his/her advantage just flared up. Yes, they are all there. Let’s acknowledge all of those voices and try to let them go. Let’s put down that baggage and live lighter for a second. I’m not going to tell you in this posting that God is “real” anyway, so relax and go back to the exercise…
Imagine you are standing before God. Allow yourself to fully accept this Presence before you. Don’t change the word God. Stay with it for a moment. Exist within belief. Keep your eyes closed and don’t worry what God looks like. Just sense this Energy as light and heat, warming your skin, illuminating your thoughts, activating every cell of your body. This presence isn’t frightening or threatening, but comforting. Free-fall into this promise of peace.
Are we “home”?
When we were in the womb, we were completely warm and supported without worry or care. From the moments of our births, everything changed. Now we are searching, fighting, wanting, needing, worried, stressed, busy, fearful, hungry (just to name a few!). And as we grow up and become educated (or not), choose mates (or not), have children (or not), and live in one place (or another), we keep making choices following the human desire to make life better for ourselves. There is a constant seeking for more… maybe more money, maybe more love, maybe more peace, maybe more fight, but our commonality lives within “the more.” But what are we really looking for? Isn’t it, in some ways, to find home, wherever and whatever that it? Aren’t we desperately hunting for a way to again be completely warm and supported without worry or care? To return from where we came while still being alive? To find an inner-understanding that feels like home.
In Rabbi Alan Lew’s book, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared, he says, “The dream of the lost home must be one of the deepest of all human dreams… And this dream is the basis of that most profound expression of the American psyche, the game of baseball, a game whose object is to leave home in order to return to it again, transformed by the time spent circling the bases. And that famous shortstop Odysseus also played this game, propelled around the world by the same dream, of returning home in the end, transformed by the journey and healed by it as well. And the truth is, every time we come home, home is different, and so are we… We spend most of our lives, I think, in this strange dance— pushing forward to get back home.”
When I studied music, we talked about song and sonata form in the same way. We hear a section of music and are pulled away from it to something other, and then we are returned to the familiar but we don’t experience it the same way the second time. I recall my music professor saying, “It’s like going to college. You leave for school, then come home for the summer. You are standing in the exact same same room you stood in for 18 years of your life, but now it is totally different because of your experiences.” In this scenario, home is oddly unsatisfying.
Maybe all of the running around we do in our lives is simply to find “home.” We all know it doesn’t matter how much money we have or whether or not we have a wonderful marriage or even amazing children or an interesting, lucrative career. We can have all of that and still be searching, searching, searching. There is no perfect place to be home or perfect situation to call home. Home is internal. Home is a practice.
And this is where God come in.
Those of you who know me know I do not care whether or not God exists. But I do believe that life is more three-dimensional when I can imagine that God is real. When I can pretend to be standing before that Presence. When I can feel that inner-knowing, and in that frame of mind, ask myself, “What’s next?”
If, for a little while, we could truly believe in God, and truly connect with that energy, what would we think about ourselves? Would we still judge ourselves so harshly? How much compassion would we have for our spouses, our children, our parents, our enemies? What apologies would we realize we owe? What would we regret saying or posting or suggesting?
Discuss this with God. Debate and argue with God if you must, but at least give yourself permission to “believe” for a minute or two. Give yourself permission to define yourself and your surroundings as you believe a loving God would. Give yourself permission to “go home.”
It doesn’t matter if God is real.
I’ll be searching for my way “home” this Friday at our Cool Shul Shabbat (click here for info) and again this Saturday morning online through Sim Shalom (click here to join in). Come on by on Friday or visit the stream on Saturday. I’d be honored to be a part of your journey toward home.