Spiritual Karma

park sunriseMy Dad was raised Episcopalian.  He converted to Catholicism in order to marry Mom.  He attended church every week but I don’t think he’d mind my saying that he seemed less committed than my mother.   He stopped going after my Mom passed away.  Until recently, I never thought about how his mother felt about his conversion, even though it’s a fairly short walk from being an Episcopalian to a Catholic.  Naturally, I was a Catholic for most of my youth but gave it up early in my college years, a combination of intellectual cynicism and practical rejection of certain dogma.   I know my mother was very unhappy with that development, something she learned of when I met my Jewish wife-to-be during my junior year.  Our decision to marry … and mine to be married in a Jewish ceremony and raise any children Jewish … were not greeted with cheers by either family and my father-in-law to be, Abe, chose not to attend our wedding.   To his credit, once he’d made his stand, he treated me with respect as a family member.

I would find Reform Judaism well matched to my spiritual needs and dislike of dogma.   During the years we were raising our children, we frequently attended services and during Muri’s brief fight with breast cancer, we both found spiritual support there.  I flirted with conversion, but remained a semi-Jew, partly because of our Rabbi’s assistance on a ritual circumcision.   Only a little nick, he said, but really, is there such thing as a little nick there?  I’ve also found that as I get close enough to a religion to learn the historical details of what they believe, I become less interested.   In the last ten years, I’ve studied the mystical Jewish school of thought known as the Kaballah and found ideas that have been very helpful.  Muri and I still practice a number of Jewish traditions in our own way and Judaism holds a special place in my heart.   You probably know that Karma is the notion that the way we live our lives comes back to us in kind.   Spiritual Karma has certainly played a part in mine.

Some years ago, I learned that my daughter had converted to the Church of the Latter Day Saints, better known as Mormon.  I admit, it upset me that she did it in secret and that she opted for a religion that was even more dogmatic than Catholicism.  My dentist, who is also Mormon, asked how I felt about my daughter converting.  How would you feel if your daughter converted to Judaism? I asked rhetorically.  He shook his head in understanding, although in reality, he didn’t.   When you believe as I do that we must each find our own spiritual path, you accept such things easier than those who believe they’ve found the right way.  The most difficult time for me came when my daughter and her husband-to-be decided to marry after a very short engagement … and be married in the temple, where we could not attend the ceremony.  There was a period of time I was so furious I could not even speak to her and I briefly considered not participating at all.   In those days, I both understood my father-in-law as never before and decided not to repeat his actions.  My daughter’s wedding is a fond memory.

Friday night, I attended the baptism of my oldest grandson, Reed, at my daughter’s church.  We were the only non-Mormons there.   My daughter asked Muri if it was weird to be there, if she hadn’t always envisioned a Bar Mitzvah.  Muri, like her mother before her, rolls gracefully with the twists and turns of life and I’ve reached a point where I accept others’ spiritual choices more readily.   We both like many of the things Reed is being taught about being a responsible person and I purposely ignore the details that will drive me crazy.   We were made to feel very welcome and part of the family.

One of the things Mormons believe that baptism brings to a person is the Still, Small Voice of the Holy Ghost, which can guide him to do the right thing.  The Torah speaks of the Still, Small Voice of God in the Torah portion known as Bembidar, and the phrase appears in the New Testament in LukePsychics refer to intuition as the Still, Small Voice.   I relate to this notion because I’ve always found the voice of spiritual guidance … of a Higher Power, if you will … to be still and small and hard to hear.   Hard to hear though the din of life, which is why I believe quiet time is necessary for spiritual growth.  I’ve wondered, too, why God would choose to have such a Still, Small Voice.  The Kaballah says that God is able to restrain his voice to allow room for nature and humans to operate, participating in the ongoing act of creation.

A benefit of being a spiritual nomad is that I get to experience common threads that extend across religious and spiritual boundaries.  For me, that provides a spiritual perspective I might not have found otherwise.  So I guess Spiritual Karma has been, in the end, good karma.

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3 Comments on “Spiritual Karma”

  1. A completely (?) secular thought occurred to me when I read the last part of your post: “Darkness has a hunger that’s invincible/and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.”
    It’s a lyric from an Indigo Girls song. I find a lot of their music to be non-specifically spiritual. In any case, I’ve always thought it’s fascinating how so many very “different” religions of the world share such specific references, phrases and concepts. It all comes back to the same things, doesn’t it?

    • oldereyes Says:

      That is a really great lyric … I can see why you were reminded. Yes, if we could see the common threads more than the differences, we’d be better off. You’ve mentioned the Indigo Girls before, I think. I’ll have to check them out. What is the name of the song?

      • That particular song is called “Closer to Fine,” but I think you’d like a lot of their stuff, particularly the earlier stuff. Look for their albums “Swamp Ophelia,” “Nomads Indians Saints” and “Rites of Passage.” I think they’ll be your best bets.

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