Spiritual Stew

park sunrisePassover and Easter often don’t coincide, even though the former is a significant part in the latter.  In case it’s been a long time since your last Comparative Religion class, Passover is the Jewish commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.  The traditions include a rutual meal known as a Seder, in which certain foods are eaten (and not eaten) and the story of the Exodus is told from a book called a Haggadah.  In this country, it is more likely you know the significance of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion on Good Friday.  A central element on the Easter story is The Last Supper, the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, an event that provide the basis for the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The connection, of course, is that Jesus was in fact a Jew and the Last Supper was likely a Seder which includes the ritual of wine and bread (matzo) at the table.  If you want a detailed discussion of why these related holidays don’t coincide regularly, you can find it here.   Suffice it to say that simultaneous arrival of the two holidays, a tradition of my youth and one of my adult life, is the perfect topping to the Spiritual Stew that was this week.

I was raised Catholic and remained so until roughly my senior year in college.   The freedom of an academic institution leads many to question their faith and the process of being educated as a scientist teaches belief based on the scientific method.  For most of my adult life, I was an agnostic, who, if squeezed moderately hard, would admit he had a really hard time believing in God at all.  However, I more or less practiced the faith of my wife, Judaism, and we raised our two children Jewish, hence my connection to Passover.  The truth is, I always wanted to believe in God.  It seemed, however, that each religion required me to believe traditional God-stories that defied both my experience and my scientific training.  In the last 22 years, I have worked the 12-Steps and from the experience, cobbled together a simple belief in God.  Twelve step literature speaks of a God of our understanding, but trying to understand God for me leads to disbelief, which is why I keep it simple.  If I say to myself, God answered my prayer in this case, then God seems to ignore me on a more important matter, I don’t try to figure it out.  The saying that God sometimes says, Yes, and sometimes says, No, and sometimes, says Wait sometimes helps.  The goal is to have a Higher Power in my life because it seems to work better when I do.

This was an interested week, interesting in the sense of the so-called Chinese Curse, May you live in interesting times.  A panic attack sent me to the Emergency Room on Tuesday and provided subject matter for a  post on Tuesday night.  Wednesday, there were two responses to my post, one from someone else dealing with mental health issues that simply said I’ve been there, I hope you feel better. The second was a several hundred word pitch for finding Jesus.  I actually understand evangelists and believe that most of them are trying to help.  Something worked for them and they want to share it.  They turn up not just in churches but in 12-Step meetings.  What infuriates me is when they see someone else’s pain as a cue card for a heavy-handed commercial.  How about a little compassion before the pitch?  It would make people feel a bit more like they were trying to help and less like they were seeking brownie points with God.  At any rate, one comment was approved and one was trashed.  Guess which was which.

Thursday when I volunteered at the 12-Step office, the regular office manager was off and the part time manager, who has dealt with panic attacks, was working.   There is nothing like having someone with shared experience.  She also had several resources, including an online talk by Brene Brown, that helped a lot.  Thursday night, I shared in my Men’s Meeting about my week, suggesting that I’d taken on too much work.  Within five minutes, I received an email on my smartphone telling me the job that was making me craziest was  on hold.  Talk about a weight off.   These were what 12-Steppers like to call God-shots, what I prefer to call Synchronicity, the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.  Yeah, it’s a habit left over from my agnostic days.  Did God answer my prayers?  Apparently so.  Why didn’t God answer my other prayers, ones higher on my priority list?  I have no idea.  But it’s Sunday.  It’s Easter.  It’s the second day of Passover.  I’m writing about spirituality and God, making Spiritual Stew.  It seems to help, which is why I choose to believe.

Have a great Sunday.

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