Saturday, February 09, 2008

624. Engendering prayer, part 2

So, finally finishing my thoughts of last Tuesday (continued from here):

But even though my initial awareness of God grew from understanding the words of a prayer, other words made me continue to come to services: the rabbis' divrei Torah, welcomes from congregants who would soon become friends, exhortations to repair the world. Music became my language of prayer, and I was moved more by sounds than their translation into language. My prayer was complete without words.

As I understand more Hebrew, doors continue to open into Torah. It's exciting, but so far hasn't changed my way of talking to God and connecting to the unfathomable. Words help, but they can't provide all the answers. The definition of God is the inability to define--which is also the definition of frustration, because we humans need language and fixed meaning to sort out the universe. I think the recent flood of atheist polemics indicates a struggle with this conundrum: we want to believe, to take comfort in knowing we're not alone in our journey, but it's less troubling to admit we'll never have a definitive answer than to decide (based upon millions of earlier confusing, searching words) that doubt and leaps of faith are irrational.

That God's existence can't be proven makes me cherish even more the unexplainable presence I feel. What is the energy coming in waves from the congregation, threatening to knock me over, whenever I stand at the bima? or hands of strangers putting my heart at ease when I need help? or sounds I don't recognize that somehow come out of my mouth when I sing? Who can say for certain that these are purely human phenomena, or not? I choose to believe they originate with a spark that emanated from a place I won't find in a science book. This is what I call God. Even if I'm wrong, I don't care--however labeled, these moments make life worth living, and infinitely intriguing.

At the end of class we were asked to consider the metaphors we use to picture God--gendered? Male or female? I realized I hadn't before felt the need to explore feminist theology because I (mostly) envision a God made of sound, wind, color, light--Who, without form, can surround me any time I need. But now that I'm getting deeper into the world of words, for prayer as well as Torah, I need to think more carefully about the baggage they carry.

No comments: