Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Days of Awe

Yesterday was Yom Kippur. I only attended the final service, as I still have an aversion to long religious services, but it was lovely. I've been going to a conservative shul here, something different for me, and it's like having to relearn everything. I am accustomed to the orthodox service, the orthodox chazan, the orthodox prayer book. I was completely lost for most of the service, until a nice woman handed me her machzor (prayer book) and told me where we were.

I broke the fast at one of the member's homes, a place where I've been a few times for Shabbat and the Holidays. It was very nice, good food and good people, but I still feel like I haven't found my place in the Jewish life here in Cleveland. Where are the misfits? The weirdos? The ultra-creative? The ones with the dark sense of humor? David would say that these people wouldn't be in a synagogue, and he's probably right.

I suppose I'm alone among the people I most identify with in my love of religion. And I use "religion" for lack of a better word. I hate "religion" actually. I don't trust an iconoclast, I fear the mob mentality, and most organized anything tends to struggle with corruption. But I also love "religion"--the rites, the rituals, the community, the yearning to be a part of something larger than yourself, the fumbling search for truth, the chasing after meaning, a semblance of order in the chaos. When I read Life of Pi, I loved and identified with the main character, who was secretly a part of three different religions because he found them all so beautiful. I secretly harbor a love for many religions myself.

It's the fact that each one claims to KNOW the truth that I can't stand. For me the meaning is in the search, and anyone who claims knowledge smells of hubris to me. Here I am, an ex-evangelical missionary, a converted orthodox jew, the last one you'd expect to be critical, but that's where I stand.

Anyway, this is a much longer post for a much more thoughtful time. The High Holidays are a time for reflection, but that's one thing that is lacking greatly from my life at the moment. All I'm worried about now is just getting through it. And finding a place here, somewhere.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

so many times reading your blog, I think to myself "Yes. ME TOO." I think that says something both about how and why I love you as well as how well you write, especially about the human condition.

That being said, while listening to NPR the other day, I heard the review of a book called The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Apparently she was once a nun and then hated how dogmatic it was and left the church to spend her life studying religion. I havent read it yet, but it sounds amazing and will soon. Here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112968197

Love from far.