I recently attended a bar mitzvah and entered a synagogue for the first time in my life. It was an enriching experience. Considering that Christianity is a religion based on Judaism, it was eye-opening to gain a glimpse of a service that Jesus was a part of. Reading the Torah and the prophets. Carrying the Torah. Imagine Jesus having a bar mitzvah at 13! The reverence for scripture is amazing.
It was also fascinating to hear Hebrew songs and read along with the lyrics in Hebrew (English translation provided on the other side of the page). Of course, none of the Hebrew characters made sense to me but to be exposed to them—reading an ancient language that Jesus would have read—was incredible. I really enjoyed attending a Shabbat service and definitely wouldn’t mind doing it again if presented with the opportunity.
While I was at synagogue in Philadelphia, on the other side of the state in Pittsburgh, an anti-Semitic man decided to bring his hate into the Tree of Life synagogue, killing 11 innocent people. The shooting hit close to home for me because it reminded me that it could easily have been the synagogue I attended. I sat on the train with profound sadness for those attending a routine Shabbat service, only to have it destroyed during at 20-minute hate crime. To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve experienced the deep sympathy I felt if I hadn’t been partaking in a Judaic service that very morning. As if Jewish people haven’t endured enough in history, to have such a terrible assault simply because of who they are and their religious faith was astounding. I shouldn’t be surprised by hate given what I believe about sin and the depraved souls of humans, but the depth of and actions from hate never cease to amaze me.
My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the Tree of Life congregation. May the Lord have mercy on the shooter’s soul. And I won’t go into the need for practical actions, such as gun restriction legislation, including mental health records in firearm background checks. I’ll save that post for another day.
My father died in December 2001. In a few years I will have lived more of my life without him than with him.
It’s weird how someone can be in your life, your presence, your existence for over 7000 days and suddenly they’re gone. Then you face an unknown number of days without them. And you have to go on. Without them.
It seems almost cruel, moving forward in life without them. Acting as though they weren’t here. As if they’d never existed. My father, who very obviously contributed to my existence, no longer exists.
I’m not going to get into the afterlife. I’m just taking about this temporal life—the here and now.
October 26 will be 1 year since my grandmother passed away. She was 2 weeks shy of 107. She was housebound and bed-ridden for some time. Her memory faded and dementia set in when she was 103. By the time she passed, she didn’t know who I was.
And one day, someone will cease to know who I am. But it’s important for me to know that no matter what, my existence matters. My dad’s existence mattered and he meant the world to me. I miss my grandmother even though I don’t think of her every day. Sure she was almost 107, but she was still a human being and her existence mattered.
I’ll save my wish for death by 70 for another post.
As I move forward into 2019, my theme for the next 14 months will be #BeYou. This involves a process of learning to not only love myself but to also stay true to who I am.
I’ve often been accused of being “too white.” My skin color is dark but my vocabulary is “white.” My music is “white.” My interests are “white.”
I am a black chick living in America. I don’t have to conform to anyone’s idea of who I should be. I can be Republican. I can be Democrat. I can be non-partisan. I can be pro-life. I can be pro-choice. I can be boring. I can be exciting.
But who am I really? Well, I’m in my mid-30s and still trying to figure that out. I enjoy a good dose of English grammar and proper usage. I love an extensive vocabulary, almost to the point of magniloquence. I read. I write. I edit. (Not usually all of the same things at the same time.)
In this journey to #BeMe, I’ve expanded the hashtag to #BeYou to encourage others in their journey to be themselves and stay true to who they are. For someone who has never been content with who she is (why can’t I just be a white girl with nice hair?), this will be an ongoing lesson in appreciating who I am and who God has made me to be.