In my first experience with the Jewish culture in New York I came away with what I thought was a definitive understanding. While I was still na?ve about the holidays and seasons, my dealings had given me insight into the heart of the culture. I was an expert by experience. I knew it all. Everything was determined by outward form. Everything hinged on the turn of a semantic. Everything logically extended along a thin string bound tight by a clear line of writings and tradition. I was so wrong!
With my confidence, I both acted and conversed on the subject. I was the teacher of others. My ill informed insights were very similar to the “how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple [John] wouldn't die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, ‘If I want him to live until I come again, what's that to you?’” (John 21.23) My thoughts may have fit a logical framework, but they were not founded on true dialogue, insight, and holistic experience. I had only seen one side.
Yes, outward form is important, especially as it conveys the heart. Yes, our words and history tell a story, yet it needs to be understood in context to the world today. Yes, there is a body of writings and tradition which form the core of our understanding, with new insights still to be gleaned – from then and now. In short, there is much more than the externals. The heart of the rituals invites one into the experience of the beliefs. It is in this heart that one finds true understanding, faith, and belief.
This time round I find myself constantly being challenged to open my heart for teaching, reflection, and growth. It is a good challenge because there is still much you and I can learn. It has been a long year – with tremendous highs and fearful lows. Reflect, meditate, and then choose. What will tomorrow, today bring? Whatever our pasts, with everything we bring, the future is written now, by your choice and mine.
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