I’m Always Seeking a Spiritual Home

I’m kind of getting used to being in this sort of spiritual no man’s land, Interfaith-Tree1where I’m looking for a place to lay my head but it seems like everywhere I look is just this great expanse of emptiness. That could be an exaggeration. But honestly, I keep thinking the answer is out there just beyond my sight line, so close. Is there a spiritual home that exists in the world that fits all of my needs? I love paganism, and I love Judaism, and I even love Christianity a bit (but more in a nostalgic kind of way), but they don’t completely meet my needs. Are they even supposed to? It seems pretty selfish of me to ask something to meet my every need.

Judaism has structure and longstanding traditions and customs. I love that. I love, to a certain extent, having the roadmap sorta written for me. That’s not to say that there’s no wiggle room, but it in some ways makes it easier to be observant. The instructions are relatively clear! Although I say that knowing that I actually only know a very, very small part of the traditions and customs of Judaism, and some of them are quite complicated (and in an entirely new language for me). Every ritual is on paper somewhere, and discussed by scholars ad nauseum. Jews are not messing around, they take ritual pretty seriously and I really appreciate that. Paganism doesn’t have that kind of structure, at least not what I’ve experienced so far. There are rituals written down, but there are so many for one simple event! Look up “Winter Solstice ritual” in google and you’ll get probably 20 different rituals to choose from. Which one is best? How do you weed through all the flowery bullshit and get to some meaningful ritual that meets your needs (in my case, can be done solitary, without a whole lot of tools, and doesn’t involve a bonfire)? Continue reading

Interfaith Struggles

My conversation with my wife the other day, talking about Hanukkah:

Me: Speaking of Hanukkah, usually each person in the family gets their own menorah. I know you’re not interested in Judaism as a participant, but would you like a menorah?

Her: I don’t need a menorah, love.

Me: Well, it’s not a matter of NEEDING one. I’m just asking if you want one.

Her: I don’t want one.

Me: *instant depression*

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I know, I shouldn’t have asked because I KNEW the answer, and I don’t want to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do so I didn’t force the issue. I just let it go. But honestly I was sad about it. It’s really hard for me because I so badly want her to participate with me– because I need someone close to me who can do this with me so I don’t feel so alone in it. It’s hard being the only one in my house lighting candles for Hanukkah, or Shabbat, or whatever it is I’m doing. It’s one of the major reasons why I haven’t been able to get myself out there and find a congregation. I’ve been too scared to go on my own. I want someone close to me to be by my side as I do it. Also, holidays should be spent with family, and I end up spending all of my holidays alone. And I hate it sometimes! I love my wife, and there are many benefits to an interfaith marriage, but sometimes I find myself upset that she doesn’t want to share religious traditions with me. She wants no part in any religious or spiritual activity, even the fun ones. Not only does it make me sad, it leaves me confused– because I’ve grown up in religious environments (and loved it), so I’m sitting here like WHY ISN’T THIS STUFF YOUR FAVORITE?! Followed by HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE IT IF YOU’VE NEVER TRIED IT?!

I need to find a space to do this with other people. Solitary ritual has its place, but I’m human. I’m a social being, and I just know I’m meant to do (most) ritual with other people. It’s how you create and maintain a spiritual community, and it’s a really meaningful and powerful way to commune with the divine. I’ll find my place one day, hopefully soon.

Interfaith Connection

In my last few posts I’ve been talking about prayer. And as you know, I’ve decided to create my own prayer book. But I haven’t really talked about what prayers I want in the book. I wanted it to be clear that I intend this book to be an interfaith prayer book. It will include pagan prayers/rituals, but that’s certainly not the only thing I will focus on in my project.

My commitment to an interfaith life stems primarily from my relationship with my wife. I consider myself a partner in an interfaith marriage because while I am on this wild spiritual path that as yet does not have a label, Kourtney is agnostic. So I have to make sure that while I am becoming secure in my spiritual beliefs I’m not encroaching upon hers. My family also holds a myriad of traditions and beliefs that differ from my own, but I don’t believe they are right or wrong, just different (unless their beliefs condone human rights violations, of course). But even beyond that, I’ve always been committed to an interfaith dialogue. I think it’s vital for our society to see the value of other beliefs and traditions, I’ve worked with many interfaith programs and groups as an adult to keep myself open and also to connect with other faith workers on a deeper level. The work can be hard but it’s so worth it.

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It’s true that this book is primarily for me. But it’s also for those who come after me, who might find value in what I have written. Who am I to say exactly what path they should choose? Isn’t it beneficial in some way to have a sprinkling of many things? isn’t there some wisdom to be gleaned from all faiths? I think so.