A Tale of Two Faiths Part Two: The Non-Negotiable’s

Barclay here –

Did you ever see the 1979 movie, The Jerk?  There’s a VERY funny scene when a distraught Steve Martin wearing just a bathrobe is leaving his wife (Bernadette Peters).

“Well I’m gonna go then.” he yells.  “And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything except this!”  He picks up an ashtray.   And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.” 

He glances down.

“And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need.” 

He sees something on a nearby table. “And this remote control.”

The scene continues until he tries to take the dog.  “And I don’t need one other thing… except my dog!”  The dog looks at him and growls.

“I don’t need my dog.”

 

So what do WE need in our faith-walks?

My non-negotiable tenets of faith can be summed up in a made -up song from the toddler room at my church. It goes to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down :

God made me and God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. God made me and God loves me. Jesus wants to be my friend forever. (If you sing it enough times, I guarantee it will get stuck in your brain.  Probably forever.  Not a bad thing!)

God made me. Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.”

God loves me. Isaiah 43:4 says, “You are precious in my eyes  and honored and I love you.”

Jesus wants to be my friend forever. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

 

The very best thing about walking in faith is that when you endure trials. and you can’t even pray, the Spirit of God intercedes on your behalf.   Romans 8:26 says that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

October 31, 2018 was a day where I could not muster prayer.  Our family was facing the “unimaginable” (a reference to the play Hamilton when Eliza and Alexander are mourning the death of their son.)

When you face the unimaginable, and you cannot pray, your very tears become prayers.

Now a year later, I can testify that God does hold your hand through the unimaginable, interpreting your wordless prayers.  As Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

“I made you.  I love you.  And I will be your friend forever.”

So like the Steve Martin character, I will clutch onto the tenets of my faith –  promises from God that enable you to endure even the unimaginable. And bring beauty from ashes.

That’s all I need.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-With age comes hardship – when prayers cannot muster words. Take heart that the Spirit of God carries your tears into the presence of God Himself.

-Joy and I do not anticipate wearing a gray bathrobe anytime soon!  Much as we love Steve Martin!  We are far too fashion forward!!

Thank you for reading our musings and reflections! Click the blue “Follow” button at the top right of the site to make sure you see Joy’s next edition about all things retirement – from faith to face cream to forgetfulness to fabulous!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Faiths Part 1 – Spiritual Roots

Now that we are retired, Joy and I have time to reflect on our beliefs and faith practices.  Since we have different spiritual roots, we thought it might be interesting to share our journeys of faith, which are just that – journeys.

Barclay here –

I grew up going to church on Sunday mornings, singing hymns whose lyrics began, What a friend we have in Jesus and  Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild restless seas.

As young children, Charlie and I were read bedtime stories, but not about Mickey Mouse or the Berenstein Bears.  Rather, our mother read aloud her paraphrased versions of Old Testament stories, written on a yellow legal pad.  We heard about David facing Goliath with but a sling and 6 shiny stones,  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo being thrown into the fiery furnace, blind Samson regaining his strength and crushing the columns of the Philistine’s temple killing himself and all those around him. Our mother eventually published these legal pad stories in a book called, In the Beginning.

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At Christmas time, our mother was counter cultural.  She deplored  the bearded jolly man (She even wrote an article called, “No Virginia, There is no Santa Claus.”)  Her children’s book, The Real Reason for Christmas, reminded Charlie and me that God had gone to extraordinary lengths to stoop down into human existence as a baby in a manger.   Christmas was all about Jesus.

So from a young age, I believed.  My faith was anchored in the stories of a God of love intervening into human life – forgiving sins, (David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph were hardly perfect) providing strength in weakness, and showing love, mercy, and justice.

But as the hymn says, life has its “wild restless seas” and my mother’s faith, though an undeniable force, did not override her focus on outward appearances and her quick tongue.  And as I broke away from my mother in my teens and 20s, I also broke away from my faith.  Rather than reading the Bible, I read nice devotionals that did not challenge or inspire.  I adopted a lukewarm faith, that allowed me to look inward and not outward.

But then came parenthood.  And the realization that I needed God.  Desperately.  The God of David, Shadrach, Mechak, and Abednigo.  The God who sent his son, Jesus, a fulfillment of prophesy, to die for me so that each day of imperfect parenting could be a “do-over” – grace filled and led by one more powerful than I.  As David says, My sin was ever before me.  And I could no longer do this life on my own power.  That much I knew!

What do I believe today?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 

Micah 6:8.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

 1 John 4:9-10.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

And when my seas become restless with waves of anxiety, fear, or grief, I believe that I have a friend in Jesus who calls me o’er the tumult.

 

Joy here-

I grew up the daughter of a mother who downplayed her Judaism and a father who came from an Orthodox family of 5 children, with a mother and father speaking Yiddish in their home.  My mother, Muriel, was very Reformed, as was her brother, Morton. Uncle Morty, I was told recently almost missed his Bar-Mitzvah because he was playing stick ball!  (millennials can look that up if you are reading our blog!)  My father was  a first generation American and my mother a 3rd generation American.

I was raised Reform and attended Sunday School for seven long years, attempting to learn Hebrew for most of those years, but definitely knowing my holidays. I was confirmed at 13, not Bat-Mitzvahed (they really didn’t do that in those days for girls) I was very proud to be asked to go up to the bimah ( a raised platform in a synagogue with a reading desk from which to read the Torah, Haftarah)  My parents had been married at this Upper West Side synagogue and my grandparents had attended services there as well, so it was considered an honor to be asked.  I recited a special poem, which I had memorized. I was proud to be turning 13 as a young Jewish woman.

Fast forward and who do I end up falling in love with?  A De Santo, not a Goldstein or a Goldfarb, but an Italian, blue eyed blonde who was raised Catholic!   You fall in love with a person, not the person’s religion, so I married out of my faith.  My parents took it well, although my father certainly would have preferred me to marry a Jewish boy, preferably a doctor or a lawyer, of which my De Santo was neither.  Handsome, promising, and very smart, I hadn’t thought about anything else at 23 years of age.

When we had children, we decided you couldn’t leave it up to them to decide (many people of my generation who  married inter-faith thought they could). At the time. I was a High Holy Days worshipper, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I said my prayers every night,  (the same ones my mother taught me when I was little- “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take) David attended church every Sunday so I balanced the decision in my head and went with bringing up the children Catholic. We celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but did have a Christmas tree and attended  mass on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to expose the children to both religions and have always felt as long as you believe in some higher being and can pray when you need to (or want to), that’s all that counts.

Today, one grown daughter is more aligned with Judaism, at least culturally, and the other considers herself a Catholic.

For me, I would describe myself as a Jewish girl from the Upper West side and proud of it!  I light Yarzheit candles, just as my mother did and her mother before her. I worship on the High Holy days, I fast on Yom Kippur, I observe Passover by abstaining from all leavened foods during the holiday, and I pray every night.  My religion is important to me. I feel a swell of emotion when I sit in a synagogue and hear the cantor chant.  It is a religion of tradition, beauty, ancient customs and belief in one G-D who is omnipresent and omnipotent.

I will pass down a very special white bible “The Holy Scriptures” given to me the day I was confirmed in 1968,  one year after the Six-Day War, also known as the Arab- Israeli War. I hope my daughters will carry it on their wedding day and will feel the depth of emotion that I do when I see it and hold it.

Today’s Takeaway…

Barclay and I share a deep commitment to our religions.  Though they are different, we both believe strongly and know that we are always in G-d’s hands.

It gives us both comfort to know that.

Thank you all for reading our musings, writings, perspectives, and very personal stories.

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding your Zen

We were the generation that was always looking for something else, a higher power, peace, contentment, Zen.

After all, it was the Beatles who introduced us to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation. I certainly can’t see parents of the 50’s questioning the here and  now, wondering if there was more to life, spirituality. They were too busy coping with day-to-day life. For most typical 1950’s families, the father earned a living, the mother took care of the children, grocery shopped, managed the household, prepared the meals. Who had time for philosophical discussions with oneself!

We started the exercise craze with running, walking, stretching those limbs, bicycling, roller blading.  We wanted to keep moving, get our figures back fast after childbirth, be relevant, be vital,be in touch, be present, mindful.  

Suddenly, yoga mats were everywhere, apps for meditation, supplements for de stressing one’s life, retreats to get in touch with yourself, spas to unwind, massage therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy, …  

A newly released study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance shows that U.S. yoga practitioners increased to more than 36 million up from 20.4 million in 2012. That’s a lot of rubber mats being sold!

Many Baby Boomers returned to the religion they were raised with, having veered from it as young twenty somethings.  It answered that need for more. Maybe we couldn’t do it all without a little help from a higher being? Maybe praying brought peace and hope.  It all makes sense when you think about the tumultuous times we grew up in and the rapid changes we were witnessing.

A 2000 New York Times poll reported that 70% of Americans described themselves as more or equally observant of religion as their parents.  81% expressed a belief in the after life, and 30% say they meditated regularly. To cap it off 90% participated in private religious experiences and a majority believe in miracles.  Wow, is the life we lead on a day-to-day basis not fulfilling enough, lacking in someway? I ask myself these questions because I have the time now! I didn’t before and so while they may have entered into my head, they were tucked away for a later date.  Retirement!

I remember my father in law’s wife (whom my husband and I never liked -another family story for a future blog) reading books on Buddha and Hinduism. I thought it odd, but now that I reflect back, I realize she was seeking something too. Though not a Baby Boomer herself, she was a person searching for more, not content with the present. This being about twenty-five years ago, it became clear to me that I am the age she was then!! So my conclusion is that we push these big thoughts aside until we have the time to reflect on them. This desire to achieve contentment and peace of mind is in our DNA.  How could we, the doers, the activists, the advocates, be anything but searchers in this next chapter of life?

Following in our footsteps, but getting a jump on the future, Millennials are not waiting . They are seeking happiness from the get-go.  I’d like to think it’s because we were good role models, but maybe it’s because they see how stressed out we are (were) and how we cope – in this technological world of split second  decisions and expectations of immediate gratification,

Interestingly, more Yale undergrad students registered for a first class on happiness  than any other course in the university’s history.  Nearly ¼ of Yale’s undergrads enrolled.

Now, if that doesn’t give us hope for the next generation, nothing will!  

Bravo Millennials!

Today’s Takeaway—

.Be a searcher, a seeker, always look for that place that gives you peace and contentment.  Don’t accept things the way they are. Unless you are in Nirvana already, there’s always room for improvement!

.Don’t judge other people’s practices, whatever they may be.  What’s right for one person often doesn’t work for another. Find your Zen and embrace it. 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy