Sunday, May 5, 2013

Unwavering

I just finished Glennon Melton’s new book, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. I loved every part of it. I loved her humor, her candor, and her ability to write really difficult things in a way that is thoughtful and funny and uncomfortable and inspiring all at the same time. When I finished, I felt compelled to pass along my copy to the next warrior momma and so I sent along my little book to a friend in Virginia. Her first take? A short message that read like this:

“So far, so good. There is a lot of Jesus stuff though.”
I get it. In a lot of her writing, she talks about God and Jesus and Church. I think it’s where she goes mentally and spiritually to make sense of things that don’t make sense. Her book is peppered with references to Jesus and parts of the bible I don’t know or could even pretend to understand. Indeed, Jesus isn’t my homeboy. I barely pass as a Jew, a minimally observant one at that. I celebrate select holidays and attend services approximately 3-4 times a year without knowing the real impetus for why I’m doing it. I whisper prayers in Hebrew that I don’t understand. I go through the motions of traditions because I am sentimental for my youth, not because I necessarily understand and feel the value of imparting them on my children. Often, I feel bad about the one dimensional-ness of my own religion. I think I feel bad that it actually feels like more of a religion and less a faith. And perhaps that is why I’m so drawn to the devoutness of others.

I’ve always had a weird fascination with the extremely devout: Evangelicals healing people in revivalist-packed stadiums, Orthodox Jews waiting out their days for the return of the Messiah, Mormons internalizing, retelling and living the principles of Joseph Smith. I am completely and totally jaw-dropping obsessed. As if I’m watching a set of contortionists. How can they do that? How is it even possible? It’s less about the specifics of any of the religious precepts and more about the compulsion and veritable ability of anyone to believe and feel something so completely intangible: a true suspension of disbelief.
The only piece of any of it that I can truly to relate to is the idea of humility. The importance of reminding myself and my children that in the scheme of pretty much everything, we are small. Teaching the concept of submitting to something greater than themselves, particularly in a world that is increasingly interconnected and busy, amazing and fleeting. I felt the relevance of the lesson, but never the practical path, religious or otherwise, to impart it on them.

And then we went to Florida last week and the kids and I hit the beach with my father. The waves were wild and relentless. Ruby preferred the safety and security of the sand. But Dylan and I ventured in. Dylan in particular kept diving into the pounding and froth of the ocean. And those waves would knock him down again and again and every time he’d get back up. And for the first time in a long time, I think I felt a piece of what Glennon is writing about in her book, of what my more faith-full friends feel, not just practice. I felt humbled and small. He was resilient. The waves were our sermon and sanctuary. Appropriately so, we bowed our heads, tasted the salt, and gave thanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment