There are several physical actions that take place during the Orthodox prayer service. One stands, sits, and bows at various places, to name a few. The actual words have lost much of their meaning for me, some of the phrases that speak of a Compassionate and Merciful God, a God who answers prayers, who protects and delivers his people from harsh judgements, just don’t ring true to me now. For years Terry and I prayed for that God to protect Jake; for whatever reasons, it didn’t work. Yet, I still do many of the movements anyway. I stand, I sit, I bow at the right times and places. Mostly I am there to say Kaddish; the truth is, I am just going through the motions.
It is the same in my day-to-day activities. I go through the motions. I do my errands, send in my resumes and job applications, make phone calls, show up on Wednesdays to volunteer at Venice Arts, bring in the Shabbat on Fridays, and so on. I am living in each day, and I guess that is good, but my future is clouded now. I peer into the fog and can’t get a clear picture of what lies ahead. I am devoid of greater purpose than just getting through the day. I lost my direction, and haven’t yet found an alternate course. I have no confidence that this will turn out all right. I have heard it said that “All things work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end yet.” Hah.
I have always had difficulty with the concept of an All Knowing Deity, the “magic man in the sky” who watches over us mere mortals, records our deeds, knows the outcome of all situations, hears secret thoughts, performs miracles, revives the dead, and renders judgement. (Revives the dead? Okay, let’s see what ya got. No?) My concept of spirituality and “God” is broader, more connected with the life force of the unseen universe. Yes, there are things in this world of which we do not know, forces at work we can’t see or feel. There is human consciousness, for example, one of the greatest miracles of all, a mighty force, but we can’t see it, feel it, touch it, hear it, or smell it. However, that consciousness can only perceive a fraction of what is really going on around us. Our view of the world is limited by what we take in with our senses. Our eyes see a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, our ears can only hear a limited range of frequencies. Sometimes we may have the sensations that there is ‘something else there’, we just don’t know what or where it is. I often feel Jake’s presence around me; is he truly there or is it just a construct of my mind, longing to have him back?
We all have a divine spark within us, and where that spark goes when we die will always be a topic of debate and ineffable mystery. Faith plays a big part in how people perceive this mystery, those with great unshakable faith may have a better time of it than I am having. There must be comfort in knowing there is a Divine Plan to all this. I have learned that this is a random and capricious universe. Our ideas of what is and what isn’t change in a single heartbeat. Our lives turn inside out in the space of a two-minute telephone call. So much pain and anguish replace our own plans and dreams for the future. What kind of Plan is that? For whose benefit is this Plan formulated? Whose Plan is it anyway? I don’t intend to blaspheme here, nor denigrate anyone’s beliefs; it is just I am not so sure about that Plan, or if it even exists. If it does, from my perspective, any Plan that took my son from me for any reason is a shitty plan. If it doesn’t, well, what’s the difference?
And so, I live day by day, waiting for my own personal springtime to catch up with the rest of the world. How long that will take, I don’t know. Until it does, I’ll continue just going through the motions.