In a world turned upside down, the seven-year-old me walked hand-in-hand with Mom down the plush carpeted aisle of Buffalo’s Temple Beth El and took a seat half-way down what seemed like an enormous high hall. We’d come to say Kaddish, the prayer honoring the dead, for William Kirby West. My father.
This cold snowy city was a far cry from sunny Tuscon, where my parents took me to Unitarian kindergarten class. Christmas was the best. Older kids, blindfolded, whacked away at a green/red/yellow-ribboned pinata. When it spilled its candy onto the floor, younger ones (like me) rushed in, gleefully grabbing as much as little fists could hold.
In contrast, temple was a solemn place. Complying with ritual words, “Will mourners please rise,” Mom stood. Wooden. Lipsticked, foreign face. A tear rolled down her cheek. I squeezed her hand.
The congregation, in unison, repeated Israel’s ancient words of faith, awakening ancient memories in my soul.
The child-me experienced the resonant sound of the Shema as visceral, magical music. Over a lifetime, I’ve continued to visit and revisit this timeless call, adding layer upon layer of meaning and appreciation.
A few day before my 76th birthday, in the winter, grieving time of life, I question. What legacy am I given to leave behind?
In today’s fractured state, with the world at critical mass, is there is a Way to keep the ancient faith that sustained our forefathers alive — a vibrant Way to hand it down to future generations?
Or will it pass away, dust in the wind?
Shall we lament over all that’s passed away? Or, like the mourners who’ve repeated the life-affirming Kaddish for thousands of years, shall we acknowledge our small part in the Creator’s divine plan, restoring harmony and peace to our lives.
A key likely to make the difference is the Unified Field Theory intuited by Einstein, equally compatible with Torah, Yoga and modern physics.
Here’s a simple picture of what I mean. It shows the integrating dynamic of all-encompassing, infinite LOVE linking the Shema’s levels of heart, soul and might.
That’s the short version.
Before my time’s up, God willing, I’ll elaborate, doing this simple concept with its many implications and applications – spiritual, psychological, social, political — due justice.
May you choose LIFE, dear reader, and go all in, supporting what you love with all your heart, soul and might.