Friday, August 24, 2012

#BlogElul: A Little Faith

Recently, I was talking with a congregant about a project that she had been working on, long and hard, for months. She had decided on a course of action that might lead to the best possible conclusion of her project, but that also could, just as easily, lead to the undoing of all the effort she had put in. I pointed this out, suggesting that by following this course of action she might find herself quickly back at square one.  I will never forget her reply.

"Oh, but Rabbi," she exclaimed, "I believe God provides! Don't you?"

Instantly, I felt both humbled and grateful for this impromptu lesson in faith. My personal theology does not ever lead me to make statements such as, "I believe God provides." But it does require me to remember, every once in a while, that some things are beyond our control, and that we need to have a little faith that somehow things will work themselves out in the end; that releasing our death-grip on life and giving over a little responsibility to God, or the animating energy of the universe, or whatever (or whomever) it is that you credit for all the world's unsolved mysteries, we will eventually find our way to some meaningful coincidence of events.

I haven't seen the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but I have heard enough about it to have adopted what is arguably its most famous line:  “Everything will be alright in the end… if it’s not alright then it’s not yet the end.” I have always believed this strongly: somehow, things will work out. We may not love how things work out, we may not have chosen the way things end up working out, but one way or another, we will be alright. We will find our way, our plan B, our new normal. So why not relax, once in a while, into the arms of

A friend of mine once told me that when her small granddaughter would cry, whether from a scraped knee or a bruised ego or a frustrated will, she would hold her and rock her and say, "It will be better soon." There are no guarantees that things are going to turn out the way we want or the way we planned, but if we allow ourselves our hurts, our disappointments, and then allow ourselves to heal, well--it will be better soon.

I need to remember all this more often. For example, when I feel beset by bad news, by a proliferation of the ugly side of human nature, whether in world events or at my own dining room table. I need to remember this as I prepare for Yamim Nora'im, the Days of Awe, as I consider all the times I have truly repented and then sinned again. There's still the good. Even if we've failed before, we still might succeed this time. We can make change in the world, even if we can't take responsibility for changing the whole world, all at once.

As for risk-taking? What other option do we have? The most conservative, cautious person in the world still has her plans blow up in her face now and then. The world is unpredictable. Our lives can change in a second. But have a little faith. It will be better, soon.

This post is part of #BlogElul, created and organized by Ima on (and off) the Bima, who writes:

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed.

Visit The Ima or follow her on Twitter to see others' contributions, and please return (!) here, where I plan to share one or two thoughts before the month is through.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that movie and I remember smiling at that very line.

    It's hard to remember that life always turns...we just have to stay in the game.