Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wonderings on Religion and Fear, G-d and the Shechinah

First of all, let me just state for the record for the most part I like religion. It is a fascinating and very interesting topic of study for me. I particularly like my religion, but I am not interested into turning anyone else onto it. In fact if you told me you wanted to convert to my religion I would ask you if you were out of your mind. It is hard to do what I do, but 90% of the time, I really like it. What does that mean? Well, in the religion that I practice, Judaism , I am pretty strict. I follow the laws of eating and the holy days, which means I am shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut. The things I don't agree with, as long as they don't make me crazy, I go along with too. What I don't like about any religion, including mine, is when it's leaders feel the need to teach you something to be fearful of. Usually it is a, "If you don't repent now, G-d is going to get you! Not only that but He is going to punish you AND our people in a BIG way!" I really HATE this! The main reason is because somehow I manage to STILL become FEARFUL even after all these years! I hate being afraid of G-d!

I suppose it's because of the abusive background that I grew up in with an authoritative, cruel and abusive father. I have spent much of my adult life trying to understand, and in the past few years, trying to re-create G-d in my image. I like see G-d more as a Divine Parent. Very much like the parent I have striven to and still strive to become. Loving all the time and allowing nothing to come between my children and I or damage our relationship. I also work at being accepting and non judgmental of the decisions my children make. That, quite honestly, is something I daily work on. Truthfully, as long as they "harm none", including themselves, I have every reason to be grateful. Thankfully, my children are highly moral and ethical people. Mostly they have taken different spiritual paths, or in one case a non spiritual path. That one was particularly painful for me, but this child is a very good and fine person. What more can a parent ask for? I get phone calls and wonderful conversations and we have a great relationship. I am most grateful for this.

The archaic and fear mongering image of the 'old man in the sky' were really escalating on the Internet since this past Wednesday night started the fast of Tisha B'av, the Jewish National Day of mourning that commemorates the loss of the first and second temple along with other national tragedies that occurred on this day in Jewish history. I just read (don't ask me why!) a blog that was detailing why American Jewry is in grave trouble and how all the mekubalim (kabalists) in Israel are predicting doom, doom and more doom for us over here in the states, mostly because of our lack of emunah (faith) in G-d and the result of our new president. ARGH! What is the point of frightening people into faith?! Does it ever really accomplish anything? To me it seems this baseless fear begets anger and hatred which begets disease and war, which end in destruction.

I lived so many years in fear and I don't want to anymore! I lived so many years fearing my father and his wrath. I finally distanced myself from him for some years now, but there is always this idea of the Thunder GD waiting and willing to get me. My father's cruelty and abusiveness apparently still get to me, especially in my spiritual life. I am happy to say that over the years, I have healed much and I have gotten better, but apparently articles like this still trigger emotions.

In many ways I think this is why I have sought to find and turn to the Shechinah, the Divine feminine. I personally want to know her better. In my recent readings, I learned a little about the sefirot and the Shechinah. The Shechinah is the Divine Presence, the Divine Feminine that is 'exiled' here with us on earth. As I understand it, this is where She desires to be, here with Her children. Judaism teaches us that the Shechinah is who is at the weddings, the births and the sickbeds. It is the Divine Feminine that comes to us to comfort and strengthen us in our times of greatest joy and need. I can see this and relate to these thoughts. I see Her and understand Her as the Tree of Life and the very Essence of the life giving Earth herself. I see Her as the Life Giver, the Nurturer, the Mother. I see Her and try to connect with Her. I find this easier as I hear and see Her in all of Nature.

I am certainly not trying to separate G-ddess from G-d, for as I believe and Judaism teaches Hashem is One. But One is not limited to (and in my opinion does not include) the 'Thunderous Old Man' in the sky. One is the Essence and Source. One is the spark of the Divine that dwells in each and every one of us, and in every being and thing that inhabits this earth, (yes, I am panentheistic). One is the YKVK dwelling in the upper sefirot and the the Shechinah here in malchut, the kingdom, with us.

She is not a deity of fear, but of renewal. She can and is awe inspiring! Sometimes this can be as simple and as peaceful as a birdsong, or it can mean something as terriblly awesome as an explosive volcano or tsunami. But She is not out to get me, she does not wait for me to make a mistake so she can hurl me body and soul into the pits of hell. She is Mother, Imma who will speak her mind, tell me how it is, and then take me in her arms and love me. She shows me and allows me to walk in my pain, and offers times of rest and refuge deep in her roots. She is to me more about relationship than religion, as she teaches me daily from all that I do and see. I hear her voice all around me and see her form in the rolling hills and knotty trees.

To me, I worship and seek to draw closer to the One, the Source, Divine, G-d and G-ddess, Heaven and Earth and every being that inhabits all and into which the Divine resides. I reject baseless fear and the perpetuators of fearful teachings. I embrace the teachings of Life, of Love, of Birth and Renewal. I embrace the love of the Earth and all of it's inhabitants, plant life and allies, animals and people.

I am sure this will evolve as I do, but for now that is my story and my current leg of the journey. I look forward to see where this will take me. To be continued...

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