Finding My Truth In Between Judaism, Buddhism and Life
Somewhere around 2012, I realized I had stopped believing in God. I tried to trace it back and it seemed like I lost faith around 2007 or 2008, when my twin girls were in middle school. Before that time, I was consistent about celebrating the Jewish holidays and many of the rituals in a deep way. I wrote a play for the Passover story, wrote a booklet for Sukkah, and never went out on Friday night because family Shabbat was sacrosanct. It was also definitely around the time that my girls were in middle school that my mediation practice intensified. Then, when they were in high school, practicing Mindful Self-Compassion, a secular but spiritual practice, mended the broken pieces in my heart.
Did my meditation practice have anything to do with my no longer believing in God?
Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that I was broken, and I was looking for healing. I wasn’t looking towards any specific religion to find peace, but all religions have a place for spirituality. There is a gorgeous children’s book that I used to read to my kids when they were little called In God’s Name by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Phoebe Stone. In the book, all these diverse people have their own name for God, and all the names are different from each other. After about a dozen characters have told the reader their names for God, they all gather around a lake. The water is still and reflective. They can each see themselves and each other reflected in the water. All at once, they say their name for God. What they hear is the word “Echad,” which means “One” in Hebrew.
The meaning of this story came alive for me when I was at Ace Hardware in Fairfax, California (a little town in Marin County near Spirit Rock Mediation Center). A small, older woman who came up to the register while I was checking out and asked whether she could pay for her little potted flowers at that register. It was a cute little pot with pink flowers for $4.99.
One of the nasty employees responded, “No, there is a line. A very long line.”
The old woman said, “I know there is a line, but I’m ninety years old!”
The old woman started walking toward the line. I caught up to her and tapped her on the shoulder, took her little flowerpot, and brought her to the register where I was checking out. She said, “That woman never should have talked to me like that. She knows me. And she knows that I’ve lost my husband.” I told her that I was buying her flowerpot to make up for that lady making her feel bad.
We walked outside together. She hugged and kissed me three or four times. She came up to my armpit and weighed no more than ninety pounds. Her pale, brown eyes had a greenish ring around the colored part. “Jesus sent you to me, and Jesus is blessing you right now,” she said.
“Thank you so much! I’ll take that! I’ll take it from Jesus, God, Buddha and Allah. I’ll take them all!” And I really meant it. I really felt it.
After I said good-bye to the woman with the flowerpot, I returned to the Spirit Rock Buddhist Retreat Center, where they lead a guided meditation on forgiveness. I teach this meditation in my secular Mindful Self-Compassion course. It is also exactly what we say in the synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Maybe Jesus sent me to that old woman, mama Helga, but maybe God sent her to me.