For some of us, wrestling with faith has left us battered and bruised. Some walk away disillusioned, and search for meaning in other ways. For others we are called, like Abraham and Sarah, to a place we’ve never been before. My own journey led me from a Catholic childhood, to finding acceptance in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, to conversion to a Judaism which welcomes my LGBTQ family and inspires my social justice commitments. I learned along the way that there are many pathways to the Divine. And unlike the childhood Sunday School understanding, a mature and mystical understanding of the Ineffable Source of Being cannot be limited to a static image of “The Old White Guy in the Sky.”
So why Jewish (and a Reverend)? I chose Judaism for my personal faith for many reasons beyond the fact that my beloved was Jewish. The spiritual technologies of Judaism are not only filled with ancient wisdom, they continue to provide relevance for me today. I and my beloved found acceptance first as a lesbian couple and then later, my beloved was blessed on his journey as a trans man, within our congregation. It inspires and informs my commitment to caring for creation. Judaism has taught me gratitude and mindfulness through its many expressions of Blessing. And its system of honoring grief is grounded in the truth of the ways grief continues to shape our reality long after our dead are buried.
But unlike many people who choose a new faith, I wasn’t leaving behind that which didn’t feed my soul, so much as I was welcomed into the Jewish tradition of wrestling with the divine and co-creating covenant. I continue to find gifts in the traditions of my youth. The beauty and empowerment of Mary, as she accepted her role in birthing and guiding Jesus into his ministry. The unconditional love and humility which instructed The Teacher to call out, “Abba”, Father. The shared wisdom within the Elder and Younger Testaments that we have a Divinely-inspired duty to protect the widow & orphan, uplift the refugee, and steward the planet.
And like many, I feel challenged by calcified constructs which are human foibles. Each of our world religions have nurtured countless souls; and each has inflicted deep wounds. What I’ve learned is that any tradition can cause wounding when it clings too dearly to dogma. One of the many names of that which we call Holy, is Breath of Life, and like our breath It must be free to move, inspire awe and fill us with creative sparks.
So why (Jewish) Reverend? I used to joke that the Divine chased me through 3 traditions. Time and again I felt called to serve Source. When I finally accepted that call, and was in turn accepted into seminary, I realized that I needed to bring my full journey of soul-seeking with me. Wiser teachers than I, in many of our world traditions, have recognized this as a time of paradigm shift. We are all being called to a place we have never been before.
Churches and synagogues alike have seen their memberships fall, as the numbers of those who identify as Spiritual But Not Religious has grown. Many of us still feel nourished by the ancient wisdoms. It is not that SBNR folk reject a sense of Awe; but instead recognize that their journeys don’t fit in a singular box created for a different time and reality.
In an age of global strife and climate catastrophe, we must each search within for how and who we want to Be, as the world shifts around us. Each of us are on a singular journey, but like the “100th Monkey,” as we grow our compassion for self and open our hearts to the wisdoms found in the journeys of others; we can shift our collective and individual reality to become partners with the Divine, inspiring our lives and, with hope, healing our planet.
I invite you to join me on this Multifaith (and for some post-faith) Journey of seeking the wisdom within our own souls, the wisdom we can gain from one another, and yes, wisdom from the ancient ancestors as well. I am a practicing Jew who is also an ordained Interfaith Minister, Spiritual Director and Chaplain.
In January, I will be launching my private spiritual practice, Shelter For The Spirit. It is not a church nor a synagogue. It is companionship using a variety of spiritual technologies. It is meaning-making and ritual weaving that calls forth a post-modern and (Godwilling) post-colonial, & post-capitalist world. It is a ministry which draws on the wisdom of many traditions as well as the wisdom within your own truth. It is witnessing the face of the Divine in each individual, in all of their multiplicities.