My Dad was a man of few words. He taught us mostly by example, unless you count, Don’t you back-talk to your mother. My Mom, on the other hand, not only set an example, she would verbalize her views of what constituted a good boy. I remember her telling me at some point, probably in my adolescence, that Life is for growing as a person. When you stop growing, you might as well be dead. She probably didn’t say exactly those words but the message was clear. Obviously, she wasn’t talking about growing up or about growing rich. She was talking about becoming a better person spiritually, socially and personally.

I know she hoped that my path to growth would be Catholicism. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t. I tried other religions and spent a substantially part of my adult life on the edges of Judaism as my wife and I raised our kids Jewish. Karma being what it is, neither of them stayed that way. I tried Transcendental Meditation and some New Age philosophies. For over 25 years, I’ve worked the 12 Steps, perhaps the longest I’ve stayed with any spiritual discipline. I’ve sat in meetings and listened to others talk about how they’ve found a relationship with a Higher Power and how they’ve learned to turn their life and will over to that Power. I’ve listened as the more religious among us talked about how God answers their prayers. I’ve wanted that sort of certainty but it never seemed to come.

Here’s what I believe. We are all different and each of us grows in our own way. Some of us are like Sponges. We choose a spiritual discipline and just soak it in. After a few months, we’re saying Let Go and Let God and God’s in Charge with apparent certainty. And some of us are like Clay. It may take a while but our spiritual program gently molds us into the person we’re meant to be. Then there are those of us who are Stones, not easily moldable. You know who you are … you probably call yourself a Seeker. Have you ever seendrum a lapidary drum? You fill it with grit and you put in plain (or even ugly) stones and as the drum turns for days and days, the grit gradually changes the stone, first knocking off the rough edges then polishing the surface. Sometimes, what comes out of the drum is a gem. That’s how life works for me. It’s not that I don’t like those easy stretches of life where nothing bugs me but I learn the most when I’m challenged. Life is my lapidary drum. It is not the easiest way to learn but the lessons learned there seem to endure.

I suspect that if you are a Sponge or Clay, you probably look at those of us who are Stones and wonder … Why can’t you just stop thinking so much and believe? I assure you, we’ve asked ourselves the same question, simultaneously wondering if you’re just pretending to believe so firmly. But we are all doing the best we can. I believe what my Mom taught me: Life is for growing. As long as we are moving forward, we are on the path. To where? I think we each discover that for ourselves, too. No, Mom, I’m not a gem yet but I’m working on it, I promise.


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