Originally published April 16, 2006.

[non-practicing Jew, non-denominational 
but NOT non-spiritual person]

Above: a few images to meditate on while you listen to my podcast…

At the risk of offending many of the people I cross paths with through life (including some family, friends, co-workers, students, etc.), I felt compelled to write down a few thoughts, especially in light of the holiday season of Holy Week (i.e. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday) and Passover.

To the person who left behind a nice marketing package hung on the front door of my home, I say thanks. I could always use the lightbulbs. But apparently, though your intention was to use this 4-pack of 60-watt GE Energy Saving Soft White Lightbulbs as a metaphor for enlightenment, along with the nifty CD/Light Catcher/Coaster and business card with the big “smile” on it, I have only one response. Have any 100-watts? My husband was asking. But I figured you probably didn’t want us to become too enlightened. Hence the 60’s.

But why did it appear we were the only ones on the block to receive your lovely coaster and lightbulbs? Could it have been that you spotted the Mazzuzah on the doorframe? My husband, a fallen Baptist, didn’t think so. But I was wondering. If you thought I or my family needed saved based on the minor exhibition of Judaism that is my birthright, you should have stayed long enough to see the “magic rock” on the credenza in my living room, a special carved rock from Vanuatu (the former New Hebrides) that is supposed to provide a blessing upon the house. They have magic rocks for every purpose, there. Once, while visiting Vanuatu when I was working for the regional university, a merchant who had already given us the shpiel on how it was forbidden to “sell” magic rocks suddenly turned a bit pale when I said that the one with the chip on his little tiny carved head felt “right” in my hand. “Take it”, he said in an urgent tone. “It must want to be with you…” and I slipped the little carved lump of coral into my pocket.

And, if you thought the magic rock was evidence of my need to be saved, maybe the carved fertility goddess from Fiji would clinch the deal, or the oddly carved canoe bowsprit from some remote region of the South Pacific that looks like its tongue is picking his nose. I’m sure there are other items around my house that are equally intriguing and could make compelling evidence for my need to be saved. But first, before you jump to any conclusions, let me explain why your energies need not be wasted here. For being “saved” is not needed here. We already are.

Let me first state that I admire people of faith, any faith, for which they feel ultimately and devoutly dedicated to. If it makes you feel good, if it gives you reason to wake in the morning, if it provides comfort in times of crisis, or guidance in times of confusion, then more power to you. It is your faith that guides you, envelopes you with a love and light that I truly admire. But, and this is where I risk offending people I care a great deal about, it is your faith. The magic happens when it stirs you to direct your life in a certain way, or in how you interact with everyone around you.

However, when you send me an email that says that I will be cursed if I don’t forward the overtly Christian message on to ten of my “friends”, thanking Jesus or the heavenly father for all his gifts, I can’t help but wonder what you must think of me. Are you trying to “save” me? Do you see my soul in ultimate peril? Or do you disrespect my own beliefs so much that you do not much worry that your message may actually be insulting? No, I try not to be offended. After all, I love you, too. I care about your future, too, and I admire your strength of faith in the path you have chosen. And I know that you are only expressing your love for me, albeit in a somewhat misdirected way.

But the Christmas card that came exclaiming the true path of Christ as the only way… or the email at Easter that says that “someone special gave up his whole life… which was perfect… so we could all be together in heaven… so you have to believe…” makes me worry that maybe you have taken my lack of dialogue on the subject as a tacit invitation to proselytize on my behalf. The temptation, for me, anyway, is to counter your message with some kind of smart-ass remark, or maybe even a totally non-secular Jewish message. Should I send you a Hanukkah card celebrating the miracle of the lights? (Was that a 60 watt or 100 watt bulb?) Maybe a Passover card celebrating the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt? (Matzoh is not a gourmet dish, by the way, and Gefilte Fish is the stuff that nobody else would eat.) Or, if I really had my druthers, I could send out my version of an Eco-friendly Druid message about praying to rocks and trees. (Scotch Pine? Or Oak? Your choice…)

Unfortunately, spirituality is getting a bad name …. And all of Politics seems to be performed in the name of Faith. It seems that one can only be “right” if they follow the same “right” path of whoever is in power. All others must somehow be bad, unpatriotic, anti-American, immoral, heathens, terrorists, infidels, and heretics. The crusade has got to stop, people. For to continue this way is to lead to a showdown, one that is a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom. What a terrible and so unnecessary shame…

As for my spiritual path? It is different from and just as valid as yours. It has the best of all faiths for it names no faiths at all. My faith is in a spiritual creator, but one that may take on many presences…in the Earth, the Sky, a tree, a flower, a bird, a butterfly, the clouds, a raindrop, an angry river, a giant ocean, a coral reef, a school of colorful damsel fish… I study and embrace the many expressions of faith that resonate within my heart, ones that do not pass off my responsibility for my actions to a long dead prophet, nor that require a intermediary for me to step around in order to connect to my spiritual guide.

My temple is the world around me. It is everywhere I go, everywhere I step, in each stroke of a pen, or wave of a brush, the folding of a towel, the cleansing of my face. It is in the creation of art, or the meditation of music. My practice of my faith does not come on Saturday or Sunday, but everyday, though some hours I am more connected than others. My holidays are always, though some moments more than others. For each morning I awake thankful for the opportunity to make myself anew, and step forward into the world to leave something good behind.

My spiritual guidance comes from a power within my heart and mind, interpreted through many different scriptures and philosophies, mythologies and stories, through introspection and inward/outward reflection. Through my travels, both physical and intellectual, I find my inspirations… note the meaning of that word: Guiding Light… from the philosophies of many different spiritual sources. Resonating, harmonizing, energizing, inspiring, and guiding…

So, please, don’t worry about me. I’m on my own path… And you’re welcome to come along. But just don’t expect an email or Hallmark card for the occasion.

2006 © mara jevera fulmer


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