Sunday, July 16, 2006

345. Hope, part 1

This weekend I went to a remarkable conference. Because I want to keep this blog anonymous, and attended under my real name without publicly revealing a nom de Internet, I wasn't planning to write about it. But I have to (and trust completely that those who know both names will keep the information private. Much as I need to tell my story, I'm not yet comfortable sharing it with all members of my community.)

I have to write about this weekend because I think it was one of those small sparks that can change the world. It was like an idea from a dream that seems both so real and so impossible that when it does comes to life you have to whack yourself on the head and say, Of course! How could I have doubted?

And, also, oy! I thought I knew the answers, and boy was I wrong. I'm extraordinarily lucky to have found my spiritual home, a marvel of inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and countercultural expressions of faith. But the nature of a sanctuary is to isolate, and I'm ashamed to notice on my own path a creeping weed or two of moral superiority and parochialism. That's not what my community has taught, but rather my own inadequate response. It's a survival mechanism in a scary world, borne out of the best of intentions. I live in a little bubble here in New York, trusting only the edges of this country and assuming that what goes on out there in the middle counts less. Southern accents make me nervous; sometimes I embrace my Christian brethren with one hand on the doorknob. And just as I accuse the Red state people of sticking their fingers in their ears and singing la, la la, I know everything and can't hear you, I'm quite capable of doing the same.



Lorianne said...

I laughed at your image of embracing Christian brethren with one hand on the doorknob: I think we've all been (and are!) there in our own way.

It was great to meet you this weekend, and I'll be reading now that I know you exist. :-) (And don't worry...your secret identity is safe with me!)

Rachel said...

It really was remarkable, wasn't it?

The more I think about it, the more awed I am by how fully we all participated, although that meant making ourselves vulnerable. Trying to sing "Lecha Dodi" if you've never been to a Jewish service, or trying to chant the Heart Sutra, or trying to davven zikr, or trying to relate to communion -- these are tremendously challenging things, and they require a certain kind of leap of faith. One that I think we all made together, against all odds.

Holy wow. :-)

alto artist said...

I thank you both for building and sharing this wonderful new thing-- I'm still (in the next couple of posts, whenever my brain cells are rested enough to write them!) trying to process it all. It was truly a privilege to meet you and pray with you, and just the beginning of something much bigger.


Lorianne said...

Yep, I feel like it's going to take a couple days & some ongoing posts to completely process what happened. I guess you could say the process & the conversation are only beginning.

Arachne said...

Yeah, I'm still spinning as well. It would take a day just to sort out the first time I tried meditating Buddhist-style; the added big-life-changing-thoughts-on-action will likely take longer.

I am honored to have met (and shared margarita) with you. Perhaps one day I will hear you chant?

alto artist said...

Honored as well! And, to address your last sentence:
and then click on the link at right that says, "In the Ashkenazic style."