I just finishing taking a short class at my synagogue on the topic of "revelation," both personal and for the Jewish people as a whole. Each Wednesday evening I came home and sat down to write about it, but was as stuck for words as when I tried to clarify my own experience. (This post took me about a week.) The rabbi asked us, at the start of each hour and a half, to make it personal, to absorb the intellectual part of what we learned and then allow it to sink into our spirits. I did, and as we leapt through philosophy, midrash and Torah about turning points and meetings with divinity I sat there with racing heart and disappearing breath, just as when I walk up to the bimah to chant. I was comforted that others have had similar experiences, but wondered where human imagination ends and God begins at the moment of encounter.
I certainly question my sanity far less frequently in this regard than eight years ago, but still feel like a drama queen. Maybe it's a cultural bias; Jews, at least the ones I know, usually believe that burning-bush type events are the realm of gospel preachers. We're a little embarrassed to talk about personal relationships with God, a phrase we only hear in Christian contexts. But every minute and word of each text we studied during this class were familiar, a travelogue through ten minutes of my life when I stood praying the Amidah at a makeshift synagogue at a camp in Connecticut. In the one moment that became the seed and spark for my subsequent involvement with Judaism, I understood that God was with me then and always. I've certainly had doubts, being human, but like those times as a kid when you told your parents you hate them, deep down I know what's true.
(To be continued.)