Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Last Thoughts While Flying Home

[This is an extra blog from Israel where I was traveling with rabbis and evangelical ministers from Nashville.]

I am flying back from Israel at the moment, exhausted and exhilarated. This has been a fabulous trip. I have deepened my knowledge of Israel, deepened my friendship with my fellow travelers, and deepened by love of God. And yet I am troubled.

What troubles me is me.

I am in awe of my rabbinic colleagues’ love of Jews and Judaism, and not a little envious of their finding fulfillment in God, Torah, and Israel. I am thrilled by the passion for God and His Word shared by my evangelical colleagues, and not a little envious of their certainty and faith.

And while I am a Jew and would wish to be nothing else, Judaism is not enough for me. And while I am devoted to the Book it is for me story, myth, and metaphor and not law, history, or revelation.

I do consider myself a person of faith, but my faith isn’t in anything. Rather it is a simply truth in the One Thing, God. I have no certainty, only unknowing; no conviction other than I don’t know; and neither do you.

Where did I go wrong? Why doesn’t one religion fill me? Why do I find myself at home in a mosque as well as a synagogue, in the Empty Tomb as well as the Western Wall? Why am I skeptical of religion even as I deepen my faith? What happened to me that I see the wisdom in all faiths and the Truth in none? Why do I find the cacophony of Jews davvening, the Muslim Call to Prayer, and the peel of Church bells satisfying rather than disconcerting? Why does chanting the names of God along the Sea of Galilee bring to an ecstatic moment of Divine Embrace when praying in most churches and synagogues leaves me cold? Why driving into the dessert empties my mind of theological bullshit that I might at least wait upon the Still Small Voice of God? Why I wish we had had the chance to walk the Temple Mount, the Bahai Gardens, and sit in the Karo synagogue of Sefat? Why I wish we had met with our Muslim peers and learned a bit about Islam?

I could tell you a story, I suppose, something self-serving even as it sounds self-deprecating, but the truth is I have no idea why I am the way I am.

So as I fly home, this is what accompanies me:

I love Israel, but the holy land for me is the earth herself.

I live Judaism, but God is too big to be squeezed into any one religion.

I seek theological clarity, but prefer babble to concord, and silence to both.

I treasure the past, but value myth over fact, and imagine that story trumps history when seeking Truth.

I love God in this moment, and simply surrender to whatever it is She offers in the next.

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