My daughters came to me after Sunday School one day, concerned about a story they had heard in which God drowned almost everyone on Earth. So I sat down and thought about why a community might want to tell that story, and what valuable wisdom might be lifted from it for my children. Here is what I told them:
God/ess has many faces, which help us understand different things we need to know at different times. Sometimes we think of God/ess as Crone, an old, old woman crowned with silver hair as an emblem of her wisdom, who helps us learn to let go of anything that is holding back the wellness of our community and ourselves.
Last year I attended a bonfire on the night of the winter solstice at a friend’s house. As my companion and I walked towards the ledge where the fire had been the year before we were both astonished. Where was everybody? We stood in the dark confused. Minutes passed.
After suggesting we leave, my companion remarked with annoyance, “What the hell is going on here?” A Rhetorical question. I sure didn’t know.
Sudden hooting split the night and some dissonant musical sounds seemed to be coming from out of the bushes below us.
Following the sounds we descended the steep hill and discovered that the fire was at the river’s edge, and that a few people were already gathered there.
Unbeknownst to either of us the location had changed, and from our vantage point on the hill we couldn’t see the fire or hear any sounds. I had been looking forward to this celebratory turning, and liked the idea of sharing it with friends. Yet, now I felt uneasy.
For over a year and a half, I’ve worked at an organization in San Francisco called, St. Anthony’s. At first, I was a full time employee and now, part-time.
A well-known entity in the City, St Anthony’s is most recognized for providing meals to those who are hungry – every day, 365 days a year. I work as Volunteer Coordinator on the dining room floor, where I assist in moving approximately 45 volunteers (needed every day), through the dining room in the 3.5 hours we are open, feeding as many people as possible. On average, we provide 2300 meals every day.
Reverend Fred Rogers tells a story about an ongoing conversation he had with his mother, where, she reminds us that there would always be Helpers, on the sidelines, waiting. “Always look for the Helpers,” she’d say. “If you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.
I wrote about my experience working at St. Anthony’s when I first started back in 2018. I still feel the exact same way, but with even more love and appreciation of the work we do, as well as absolute admiration for the dedication of my colleagues, who work endlessly as Helpers.
Karen Leslie Hernandez is a theologian and interfaith activist. She has published with several media outlets including the Women’s United Nations Report Network, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue/Studies, the Interfaith Observer, and she is the only Christian to have published an ongoing Op-Ed Column with OnIslam out of Cairo, Egypt. Some of her past gigs include designing and teaching an Interfaith Dialogue workshop with Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, as well as spending three years working with United Religions Initiative, in several different positions. An Over-Achiever, Karen has not one, but two theological master’s degrees – one from Andover Newton Theological School, the other from Boston University School of Theology. She did her BA at Wellesley College, graduating with honors in her major, Peace and Justice Studies, where she wrote her thesis on Al Qaeda and their misuse religion for political gain. Karen currently lives in California, works at two faith based non-profits, teaches workshops throughout the Bay Area, is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Claremont School of Theology, and she is also a certified domestic violence advocate.
White supremacy culture is on full display day in and day out in America. You don’t have to strain to see it—the President’s recent comparison of the impeachment proceedings to a lynching is the latest example.
Of course, even such an extreme example is still defended by white people of all shapes and sizes: senators, voters, talking heads, and the offender himself. The grotesquery of such a distorted perspective is emblematic of a sickness in our country to be sure.
But there are even more sinister forms of white supremacy that afflict our collective lives. They are harder for many white people to see. And they are, therefore, harder for us to believe. This kind of whiteness is the whiteness that blinds us. This is the whiteness that creates the conditions for the extremes to be mistaken for the whole problem. But more importantly, this is the kind of whiteness that creates the conditions for whiteness to be even more tenacious in some dangerous and annihilating ways.
On December 15, 2018, at 10:22PM, I received a call and a voicemail from someone I didn’t know. The charming message left for me? “Hello, Karen. You fat, disgusting slob. Go back to your country. I hope your new year’s is great. You fat, disgusting slob. Goodbye.”
What to say?
With just the right amount of racism, misogyny and stereotyping, at first, I was scared. I remember sitting in my apartment, with the lights off thinking that no one should see I was at home – wondering who this person is? Was he close? Did he live in San Francisco? How does he know my name? How did he get my number? Does he know where I live? It completely freaked me out. I listened to the voicemail several times, wondering if I knew this person – perhaps he was someone I angered because I didn’t want to date him – I had no idea.
In the coming days, after a conversation with Verizon and a friend who works with AT&T, I got the caller’s name and some other pertinent information. An 18 year-old kid named Dominic, from Ohio, was the culprit, and after a bit of sleuthing on Facebook, I contacted Dominic’s dad. I left a voicemail at his dad’s work, sent his dad an email with a copy of the voicemail, and I called the Youngstown police – and I never heard back from anyone.
Since I began writing for FAR in July 2012, I have written about Mary Magdalen, or excerpted a passage from one of my novels, near or on her July 22 Feast Day. For why I made the controversial choice to depict her as a prostitute, see last year’s post. The below excerpt is from The Passion of Mary Magdalen. I made this selection in remembrance of all the refugees in the world today. In this passage, Judith, a Jewish widow whose family was driven from the land by tax collectors, returns to the place where Maeve (my fictional Celtic Magdalen) and her friends have recently founded a Temple to Isis on the outskirts of Magdala. Maeve has just invited Judith to join them. (Edited for brevity.)
She stared at me, her eyes full of anger and longing.
“I will not be a slave and a whore where I was once a wife, the one who made the challah bread, who said the Sabbath prayers over it. This was our place, my husband’s and mine. We brought the best we had to the temple, the finest oil and wine, the unblemished kid—”
“Goats? You kept goats? You know how to make cheese?”
She sat quietly for a moment before she answered. “How can I live here with you?” she wondered. “I don’t understand.”
What can we learn from each other? Some people teach us that we need help with boundaries. Some remind us that we are easy to love. We can observe the way some lovers make us want to escape, simmering a queasy feeling in our stomach that we practice patience and non-attachment with so that we are not harmed too much whilst in their presence and other lovers are always ready with a supportive word, assuring us that what we desire is valid, that we do not need to justify our path.
The people who we react to the most intensely, most of the time negatively, are these people our lessons? That sounds rather crass when thought to apply to anyone in an extremely oppressive and/or abusive situation. I would not suggest we apply this to anyone but ourselves, if indeed, it works for us. This is not the fatalistic idea of people belonging in a certain state or being punished for something. This is more a strategic curiosity of looking at our own agency from a back door. For example, my body might contort in frustration and sadness with someone, which could indicate I need to not be in relationship with their energies, but until I can create another path (maybe due to work commitments, relational obligations, financial situations, etc.), I feel more empowered reflecting so that I can learn about myself and others so as to perhaps not invite the same energies in during the future or to not have them affect me so harshly so that it doesn’t matter.
For many of us, listening to women-loving-women songs is a spiritual experience. That is because somehow it makes us feel seen, puts a sense of hope into our world as well as daydreams of romance. We can understand the challenges and the regret or guilt that comes with disappointing others and ourselves, them for not being who they wanted us to be and for us, not being who we are for far too long. Holly Near’s Simply Love album narrates a story that I might envision as a musical theatre production, and I really wish someone would ask me to write it and then hold the casting call (yeah, I’d want to be in it too, so save me a part). I offer some of my thoughts on two central songs in the would-be musical in hopes of sacred liturgy on a potential stage.
Simply Love has 28 songs and was released (according to Spotify) in 2000. I think the synopsis would be surrounding Cassandra, in a loving relationship with her partner, reflecting on her journey to this place of authenticity. I can imagine how it might be living one’s live in an exploratory way and coming to new revelations later in life.
Arbor Day, Earth Day, May Day and Mother’s Day are deeply connected conceptually, etymologically, culturally and emotionally.
The tree, with its roots buried deep in the earth and its branches reaching upward toward heaven, spread wide to embrace all of eternity, is a prime symbol of life in many cultures. Trees have long been worshipped as beneficent spirits of bounty. Trees, after all, shade and feed us. Supply and sustain us. Serve us in endless ways. Trees breathe life into our lungs, the source of endless inspiration.
Possessing the potent powers of fertility, growth, resilience and longevity, the tree is widely seen as the progenitor of the world Family Tree. The Tree of Life. The tree goddess was seen as a sylph, an airy tree spirit who resides among the green leaves, sustaining and nurturing the vegetative forces. She is the symbol of the flow of life, a Mother Goddess who is Herself the Tree of Life.
Carol Christ wrote about gift economy on this blog in 2013, and I am taken by her story of the woman who brought raisins or cracked nuts to the group even though she had very little. In beginning to encounter the literature on gift economy myself, I am wondering how it all works, especially wondering, perhaps outside of such a conversation if it doesn’t relate or misses the point, what someone who feels they have nothing to give can give.
When Genevieve Vaughan wrote about gift economy in Ms. Magazine in 1991, she wrote, “where there is enough, we can abundantly nurture others. The problem is that scarcity is usually the case, artificially created in order to maintain control, so that other-orientation becomes difficult and self-depleting.”
I think we start to look for other ways of existing when we experience the brokenness of a current existence. The exchange economy under mindless capitalism does not honor equal, fair exchanges. If we could keep from manipulating and being deceptive about what a product is worth, if we could more generously assess the contribution of workers, then some of us might not be bothered. Of course, for that work which is never compensated by money, mostly women’s work, that is the other issue that might not be solved by more equal exchange, and probably more the point of Vaughn’s.
Even though I realized at least 17 years ago that it makes no theological sense to limit our symbols of the Divine to male symbols – Lord, God, Father – it took several years for this idea to embed itself into my subconscious. Over time, male language moved from ‘unnoticed’ to ‘noticed’ to ‘distracting’ to, eventually, ‘oppressively violent when used exclusively, without female images to balance out millennia of the idolatry of maleness.’
One of my favorite ways to dislodge this subconscious, internalized patriarchy has involved rewriting favorite old hymns. I usually try to incorporate a combination of images, to represent the incarnate divinity of all genders and all Creation. But let’s be honest: female terms for the Divine remain startling in many religious and secular, cultural contexts. In my own Methodist tradition, even though progressive Methodists sign up on paper to the idea that “God” (there we go again with the male terms) is bigger than any symbol or gender, I’ve as yet only ever been to one Christian church that used balanced gender images of the Divine, and that was a queer welcoming Methodist ministry with intentionally inclusive theology and liturgy.
I think that church saved my life. Some days, I also think it ruined my life. It showed us all what Methodism can be; and then, its time ended, and we alums drifted into the diaspora to try to take the hope and healing we experienced there into our own journeys. Some of us remain within Methodism and continue to work for the vision of welcome, of the kin-dom, that we sought together there. Personally, I love being Methodist. Grace, the journey, grace, the quadrilateral, grace.
What are we going to do with this world that’s on fire right now?
I continually ask myself what my role is on this beautiful blue planet – what am I supposed to really do? What am I going to do? What have I done?
I never wallow in my past, but, gosh-darnit, I’m a survivor. Things I suffered in my early years, intermingled with what happened to me in the many years since, have, at times, won. They’ve drowned me, torn me, thrown me, and found me in the fetal position. Yet, here I am. A high school drop-out getting my Doctor of Ministry. A survivor of abuse standing strong as a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. A suicide attempt survivor with an incredible zest for life. I share all this not to brag, but, to remind myself mostly – I am still here. By God’s grace, I am still standing.
Without boring you with too many details, this last year was probably one of the most difficult I have encountered. Ever. Yet, hello! I am here to continue my rage against the machine – remaining at peace with my mouthy, rebellious, sassy self. And, yes, mindful of all that was, is, and will be.
From the day my Father, Theodore, was brutally and callously murdered in Toronto, on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978, I wanted to meet his killer. I wanted to know how it was possible to do such a horrific thing. I wanted to know how he felt about destroying the lives of so many; my family’s, and his own.
We did meet. The meeting occurred in July of 2007. Because of reading about an award I received for my Therapeutic Writing Workshops and the publication of my books about healing, voice, and agency, he emailed me. Our meeting, our reconciliation, even those many years after that dark, dark day, was a rich blessing in my life, and proved helpful for him too.
The word forgiveness, is one that can lead to great suffering for victims and offenders alike. Victims are told that if they do not forgive, they cannot heal. Offenders are told that if they are not forgiven, they cannot move on from the crime they have committed. Forgiveness is a loaded word, with as many understandings, expectations, and definitions as there are experiences of savage loss, savage grief, savage pain.
It’s hard for me to be dignified and peaceful sometimes. To produce and sacrifice without rewards, making sure I’m not “sacrificing” in a way that quells my truth and power, making sure I look at dignity in a liberating way. Words continually need to be unpacked, and I do that. I know the work. According to the OED, it means “The quality of being worthy.” For me, ‘dignity’ is just being aware of your self-worth and celebrating that. It feels hopeful and romantic and raw. To sacrifice, to me, in the way I’m using it in this moment, is to be life-giving and co-creator; I think of it in the same way as what the earth does, so that it can continue. Like a leaf fallen to nourish its own soil.
The OED definition of ‘sacrifice’ I like is “The destruction or surrender of something valued or desired for the sake of something regarded as having a higher or more pressing claim.” We can decide what is more pressing. For me it is the ethic of generosity and production in a non-greedy way. I do not sacrifice in this more self-empowered, law-of-the-universe way I’ve recently come to understand much. But I would like to. Sometimes, though, I feel tired in my production, like I need more feedback, even if it is another woman willing to listen to me, which is why posting on FAR is so healing and life-giving because there is all of you.
I’m glad I have wisdom in my body. Even if “I” (my mind?) goes chaotic, feels overwhelmed and lost, my body has this natural intelligence to heal and regain balance if I can listen and get out of its way. That reminds me a lot of the earth—regions harmed by human mindlessness have been known to restore itself, even after radiation or toxic explosions, when humans leave for awhile. But if “I” equate myself with my mind, isn’t that also a part of the body? Wouldn’t the mind (the brain? the processes that help mental consciousness and thoughts arise?) then be wise, seeking balance? It just does not feel like it. So if anyone can weigh in on that. . . why so easy for my body-body but not my mind-body?
This has been another hard month. I don’t feel it to be hard. I just know objectively that it is. The typical challenge of balancing my work with the children’s needs and the management of a household has been intensified by the onset of a serious medical condition in my family. I now enter that phase of elder care, which I understand is more or less bound to bankrupt the average household. I have become the much-begrudged adult child, compelled to make decisions for other people’s lives and regarded in the fog of suspicion. My intentions are now under scrutiny; my time is usurped; my efforts are thankless. I’m not complaining really. I am just describing.
In the midst of things, I have managed to take my older son to the seeming ends of the earth to visit potential high schools. I am managing a Destination Imagination team for my fourth grade son’s class. I am teaching six courses, and my home is relatively clean. I am running a weekly lecture series, I volunteered at the Church this month, and no one has missed any meals. I even managed to sew a blanket for a friend’s new baby. There are many more serious family, medical, and economic issues that underlie my day-to-day, but along with everyone else, and perhaps a little more so than some others, I just accept that I am amazingly over-extended.
A friend of mine has been in hospice with Alzheimer’s. And she died today. There will be a day when I write about Barbara… what a great friend she was. How I hate that she is no longer in my life. How I know how hard it is for her spouse to lose her. How hard it is when someone so vibrant leaves your community.
But writing about her was not what I could do today. And today is when I had this blog due. I decided after I learned that she had passed – to garden. Barbara used to help my wife water the garden. It was something comforting and familiar and useful that she did with us.
It is not easy navigating the world with fragile boundaries, self-worth, and a potential history of manipulations. I often seek wisdom in spiritualities and unfamiliar religions because I need a substitute for the childhood traditions I have abandoned as a raft mid-stream. I am attracted to fashioning another raft, this one not pre-fabricated but gathered over some time by reaching for branches and tendrils. I am never confident about my assessments concerning relationships, and I mostly avoid going very deep with people anyhow or keep my head down so as to go unnoticed or divert the interest of others because I don’t yet know how to have healthy relationships that entail elements of balance or stay more-or-less in the middle way. It is awkward and fumbling to do life on one’s own, and I am hardly a victim. I completely admit that healing is within my purview and I simply have not tried hard enough, or that I just need to accept that no relationship is perfect and one cannot exactly have pleasure without pain, and so allow my body to sink into the underwater worlds and be taken by the sensory suctions of sea urchins and stings of jelly fish. Perhaps a relationship can also be one of peace and calm passions where those involved keep their attachments in check. I guess that is possible.
Ah, confession. I admit I never really much understood the Catholic practice of confession to a priest; as a United Methodist growing up, the idea of confession – while challenging – nonetheless seemed to belong squarely between myself and the (supposedly male) God that (apparently) loves and forgives us while still calling us to live into a more perfect vision of our individual selves and of the kin-dom. But to confess things to a minister? In a little booth? The very idea gave me the heebie-jeebies. Probably even more so since my father and/or stepmother were usually said minister. Well, that wasn’t a common Catholic thing either, I suppose.
I took confession very seriously, however. I firmly believed that we have all sinned and fallen short, and that we can and must do better – for our own lives and wellbeing, for our loved ones, for humanity, and for the whole Creation. Confession was like the first step toward healing – like a diagnosis; without admitting what was going wrong – or what was inadequate – how could we take steps toward what was right?
My daughters came to me after Sunday School one day, concerned about a story they had heard in which God drowned almost everyone on Earth. So I sat down and thought about why a community might want to tell that story, and what valuable wisdom might be lifted from it for my children. Here is what I told them:
God/ess has many faces, which help us understand different things we need to know at different times. Sometimes we think of God/ess as Crone, an old, old woman crowned with silver hair as an emblem of her wisdom, who helps us learn to let go of anything that is holding back the wellness of our community and ourselves. Continue reading “A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”
French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil, in Gravity and Grace, says forgiveness is knowing I am other than what I imagine myself to be (9). For Weil, our true selves seem to be inextricably intertwined with each other, with the universe; knowing this can bring compassion for the self and world.
Upholding the constructed self that needs to be justified, protected, and admired can cause a lot of stress within our bodies and perhaps violence in relationships. Weil says that the cause of war is that we do not know we have access to the universe in our own bodies (86). Sometimes I feel that we avoid each other, looking in to each other’s eyes, because we cannot bear the weight of energy, the collision of spinning vortex that might occur the closer we move. Our DNA might hold memories, shared vibrations with ancient mountains, and the bodies we inhabit feel so intensely. Every cell seems alive with sensation, and most of us want to avoid the pain that cannot always be extracted from the pleasure that is also ready to be encountered.
One of my students asked me, as we discussed Weil in class, why we should improve, try to become better people, what the point was of anything. I don’t always know the answer to these questions or what might prompt them, but what I think for the time being is that we get up off the floor because there are these moments of intimacy where the universe is felt through our veins, and to experience that, even occasionally, might be worth everything. To do what we might be destined to do, to co-create and do that in healing, pleasurable ways, is to align with something beyond, but not excluding, ourselves.
In these challenging times, one of the hardest things to do is to keep our hearts open. Grief and despair tend to shut them down. And even among close friends, colleagues, family members, and people with whom we share worship, when we clash over differing political opinions, trust can swiftly erode. These kinds of losses and sorrows can make us just want to close the doors to our hearts.
Yet hardened hearts and minds are not going to help us overcome conflicts and affirm connections. Only if we can open our hearts to one another, holding the fullness of our (and others’) feelings in a compassionate way, can we weather the storms which threaten to divide us further. And only if we are united can we find our way together through those storms.
One of the best ways I know to connect with others and to open my heart is through the joyful experience of traditional circle dance, particularly Armenian dances. I have written previously on this blog (The Dance of Memory, The Wishing Tree) about Armenian dances and their ancient roots, their links to the pre-Christian Goddess, and how they affirm survival throughout the traumas of history. I have also written about my friend and colleague Shakeh Major Tchilingirian and her inspiring Circle of Life project, which brings Armenians, Turks, Kurds, Assyrians, and other survivors of atrocities and genocide to dance together for reconciliation.
If you don’t know how to flirt, you shouldn’t be having sex with anyone.
I admit it… I used to love flirting. It can be incredibly fun. I flirted outrageously with guys I had no intention of dating, and guys flirted with me who weren’t interested in dating me. It wasn’t about sex, either. It was just awesomely fun. The only time I minded was if it turned out they were married/in a committed relationship.
Flirting is like dancing. Both people have to agree to participate. It involves a lot of asking the other person what s/he is comfortable with. Sometimes it is kind of sexual, sometimes it is beautifully spiritual or exciting intellectually. Sometimes it’s tequila body shots, sometimes it’s holding a gaze just a little longer than normal, sometimes it’s making witty but not cruel jokes at the other person’s expense. But it has to be fun, it has to be happy. Like sexual intimacy. If at any point, one party becomes uncomfortable, the other party has to back up and figure out why, and what is needed now.
Some of the most brutal weapons ever used against me were crafted and wielded by my own hands, forged in grief and self-loathing out of the words of others. In my better moments, I recognize that while another’s frustration with me frequently may be justified, any cruel words towards me never are, and are more a reflection of their speakers’ relationship with themselves than of any facts about me.
The parent who criticized me for being a “crybaby” saw in me a freedom of emotion that challenged the stoic denial of their own pain. The friend who criticized my optimism as “naïveté” and ignorance resented their own lack of hope about their future. The loved one who lashed out against my precious family deeply wished to experience that profound sense of belonging and acceptance that they’d not yet allowed themselves to feel.
In my heavier moments, when I’m questioning my choices and feeling the weight of responsibility that comes with adulthood, parenthood, and awareness, those words slither back into my brain, taking hold of my memory and trying to convince me of my own inadequacy and brokenness. Hopeful Me looks at my traits – my sensitivity, optimism, and devotion to loved ones – as strengths to be honed into tools I can use for my good and that of the world. Overwhelmed Me looks as these same traits as evidence of my damage – artifacts left behind by childhood trauma and occasional adulthood bouts of depression and anxiety. Continue reading “Forgiveness and Faith by Chris Ash”
I recently began a new job as the Associate Director of Admissions for the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, one of the seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This week was orientation for our new and returning students and much of the time has been focused on getting to know one another as well as getting to know the corner of Chicago in which we are located. There have been so many life giving conversations as well as so many questions!
Our mornings featured speakers who helped us to engage one another in conversation as well as to start thinking about the unique reality of our place within not only the LSTC community but also within the rest of the Chicago community and the larger world. Throughout these presentations and getting to know you activities my thoughts continued to be pulled back to the question of how to have life-giving conversations in a time when so many of us feel emotionally and spiritually drained by the world around us.
During my last months in Cape Town I have been facilitating a series of workshops on Rape, Gender Justice and Culture of Consent. I am blissful for the opportunity to teach and learn with a group of people with whom we have navigated in the approach of Rape and Sexual Assault in their different perspectives, from the socio-political to the intimate tenets.
This has been an exciting journey of healing and soul blooming. I have realized the critical role that Cape Town has played in pushing me towards empowerment and thriving, enhancing my taking back ownership of my body and all the experiences happening through it.
This journey started few years ago when I decided to come out of the closet as a rape survivor. I wrote about it on Feminism and Religion. This was the first step of my breakthrough. Little by little I became confident and shameless about saying: “Yes, I was raped”.
Over the past few months, a precious person has come closer into my family’s life in such a way that their presence in my home, among my loved ones, has come to feel natural and easy. This is someone I love, someone who adores my children and appreciates my partner of 18 years and whose sweet spirit and vibrant laughter have added joy and mirth to our family home.
Yesterday, they rode with me to drop my freshly-mohawked teenager off at a farm to help with preparations for an upcoming arts camp. I introduced them by name to the camp assistant and walked over to chat with the camp director for a bit. Later, as we got back into the car to head to lunch, I asked what they thought of the farm.
“It was nice,” they said. “I’m glad your children have a place like that. Also, while I was chatting with the camp assistant, she asked if I was family.”
“What did you say?”
“I said yes.”
They weren’t wrong.
The meaning the word “family” holds for me is something I’ve given much consideration over the years. For generations, many of us have been expected to turn a blind eye to the ways patriarchal domination of women’s and children’s bodies perpetuates abuse in our own family systems. My inability to sweep these abuses under the carpet, to keep silence and pretend all is well, has led to my estrangement from one entire side of my family. It’s an estrangement I feel will be permanent, and while I grieve the loss of an ideal I never had, I welcome the opportunity to live authentically and boldly, confident in my dedication to my ideals, which include honesty, justice, and the unconditional protection of children and vulnerable populations.
For a while, I sat with the gap this estrangement created in my life, unwilling to fill it with harmful relationships with those to whom I am blood-related, yet hesitant to broadly redefine it in a way that negates the importance of those who have chosen to love and raise up a child, however imperfectly. Continue reading “Family, Interdependence, and Mutual Support by Chris Ash”
When I was in high school, I once gave a speech summarizing what I had learned about G-d through my dog. I still chuckle at the idea. I cringe sometimes and wonder what others thought of the piece. Oh, the seeming immaturity of such an idea and perhaps naiveté. I’m still embarrassed by my high school self.
The connection, on which I drew, included some of the ways I had come to love my four-legged friend as well as the way I interpreted his actions as love for me. I remember I had a list of ten things my dog had taught me about the divine. There was definitely a mention of unconditional love, being happy to see me, probably something about not being angry or ever holding a grudge, sharing secrets, perhaps a lesson on patience, and, of course, many more which I can’t remember. This is beginning to sound like my blog post about Hanukkah, isn’t it? What were the other two nights? What were the other six comparisons? Oh, never mind. Continue reading “The Dog and the Divine by Ivy Helman”