Title: Living a story, being Jewish in my humanity
I'm inspired by my recent experience of insecurity. Which occurred about ten days ago, mostly in an argument I had with my uncle in law, at a family dinner, in an Israeli restaurant, on a Thursday night, in a predominately Jewish suburb (so it seems, through the filters of my story making).
My uncle asked me, to what religion my friend belongs.
Why are you asking? I asked in response.
To explain, the context of the discussion, it was about my friend and I sharing my car. He had collected a couple of fines and had difficulty paying them. I had been challenged to confront him when I decided to stop sharing the car, until these outstanding fines would be paid. This caused some resentment, between my friend and I, and now again at the dinner table, as I shared the story with my extended family. Everyone at the table communicated to me exactly what I must learn, not to share my car. Since I have been keeping Jewish custom as well as sharing the car, perhaps my uncle was questioning the expression of my religious affiliation. But since we had just explored some examples of religious fundamentalism, I was concerned he might be setting me up for an accusation of extreme fundamentalism.
So I answered, He belongs to Humanity.
But that's not a religion, he said.
That conversation has lead me today to explore the question, What is Judaism?
For me, Judaism is a living story. One that is not represented by a definition. Rather, one that inherently (and literally) twists and turns as it explains itself. One that must be known, in the lives of all that experience it, tell it and learn about it (subjectively, for themselves). I feel I can and wish to tell my version of a greater story, a more universal story, as I continue to live and reflect on my subjective experience, my version. My story just keeps on twisting, being Jewish while in my humanity.
Well, I could stop right there... but I wanted to tell you more. Hmm, what now?...
I wanted to tell you about a cultural and symbolic story. About the Children of the House of Yaacov (Jacob). As the story goes, seventy people went down to Egypt, in a time of famine. Egypt became a house of slavery, which devolved from the centralisation of grain rationing, initiated by Joseph, son of Yaacov, to save lives during the famine.
As the people became dependent on the centralization of wealth and the representation of its authority, they entered a vicious cycle of vulnerable exploitation. They became alienated and enslaved to a false story about themselves. After a few generations the persecuted arose in protest as a mixed multitude.
In this story, the repressed are liberated by a welling spirit, dug up in the soil of desperation, saved by their hope for a new kind of freedom. And it is not just the freedom to procreate, recreate, to break bread together, to eat a whole variety of vegetables, with some tender Kosher meat and sweet red wine. But the freedom to know themselves, to experience an extremely satiating authenticity.
This is the Passover feast, but can being together, eating, singing and telling stories reflect a living authenticity?
This story is relived as a source of inspiration. Entire cultures have developed to continually spring from its experience. In the depth of desperation, in the house of slavery, freedom means the experience of intentional being. Being is the delightful presence of self and the intentional self has a story to discover. Revelation is through what ever possibility that self may choose.
What about the habitual structures of our lives? The question arises, how might this inner self become social, abide not in hate but in love, suffering disappointment yet remain or renew its own presence of self in authenticity? What kind of story would we share? What would the story become through the retelling, the reliving, the generations?
Some say the self and selfishness are both false and ego, dying from a thousand painful sorrows. Some say the self is seeded by a perfect spirit giving life within every creature, always leading to an eternal bliss. May the loving union of spirit and embodiment, modest kindness and humble repentance, flow through us to guide, our lying down and waking up, our sitting and talking, our going in and out, walking on the way.
And may our story telling be a reminder in our broader social, economic and political way of life. May our collective historical and visionary stories become living and reviving experiences. Our stories are reflections of our immediate and current authenticity, our real property, our dependable, trustworthy and sustainable currency.
I am coming to accept that my own unfolding experience, is not a needless mind chatter or directionless drift but my very creation, as it becomes self aware and melds with its world. A world of beings just like my self. Story tellers, weaving a story. Dreamers waking and meandering through recollections and fragments of insight and wonder. Asking questions, to find relevance, to acknowledge and seek common ground.
So, I'm really into this story. I can't just stop there. I must share my version in the hope of collaborating in a greater story (humanifesto). But I've just received an invitation to have lunch with my neighbour, my fathers brothers son. I am invited to break bread, in that familiar middle eastern version of a pita pocket with some falafel and Israeli vegetables!
Hi... I've come back from enjoying lunch. And to tell you more about my afternoon...
I've stopped in and met the inspirational people at the new yoga venue across the road. I've stopped in to another store and bought an inspirational booklet, Sayings of Buddha. A while later, I've come from a casual meeting with another friend, who told me about a workshop taking place just up the road tonight. We have shared, we talk, gesture and listen as we weave in to each others stories. Our presence and our stories influence and are influenced by each other. I've just edited this page and also my previous page on the proposed well-being motel. Now I'm off to the improvisation workshop which my friend had told me about.
2006 07 04,5
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