"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)
Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise
Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.
Friday, January 1, 2010
The Judaeans in the Holy Land lived among the pagans in the Middle East. Although they had their covenant with the Lord (Baruch haShem), they behaved much as their neighbors, and practiced many of the same customs. They did not live in devotion to God (BhS), and treated each other with apathy. The rich looked down upon the poor, and they all looked with disdain upon the neighboring peoples, even while they emulated their economic practices. The land was filling up with idols, both literally and figuratively. And God (BhS) was not in the least pleased. It was time to teach them a lesson in obedience. So He sent Jeremiah to warn them, and to tell them they still had a chance to turn their lives around. If they would not listen, God would send a stronger nation, the Babylonians, to conquer their land. But if they would turn from their offensive ways, to seek God and care for their neighbors, they would be spared the harshness of judgement. But unfortunately... we know how the story turned out.
Today, the people who bear the name and covenants with God are in much the same situation. Perhaps we are even worse than those long-ago Judaeans, for we look upon our own people with disdain and apathy, and the "foreigners" with hatred and mistrust, even though we know that they have their own covenants and scriptures from God (BhS). Their only fault is that they speak a different language, and therefore call God by a different name. They have a different culture, and thus God has given them a different set of guidelines to live by. But it is the same God, and we know it. Still, we would rather argue about the fine points of theology, law and politics, instead of trying to figure out a way to respect each other and live together in peace and harmony.
We need to stop and consider the facts: God created us all, and comes in search of those of us who are willing to seek Him and learn His ways. He always meets us where we are, because He knows that we are unable to go beyond our own culture, our own backgrounds and educational levels, our own prejudices, even, to seek Him. God (BhS) knows our limitations. He made us that way, but He also gave us a spark of His Spirit, so that we could learn to transcend our differences even while we appreciated the fact that we have them, because they are a part of his plan for this world. It gives Him joy and glory to see his children learn to accept each other in the same way that He loves and accepts us. He meets us halfway, and allows for our needs to be met, and He wants us to learn to do the same for each other.
Let us resolve and promise ourselves to try to see all of our fellow human beings as potential friends, brothers and sisters in the family of God, whether we call Him Adonai, Allah, or Abba. It is all the same because He loves us all. We must seek to find a way to meet the needs of all, not simply in justice but also with compassion, for the earth is one and we are one, and we must share and care for it and each other. Every people must have a homeland, even if we must share it with another people that also claims it. If God has put us together, then there is a reason and we must learn from it. We must not resist the opportunities to embrace our differences and find new ways to share our values and enrich our future. If we cannot share and adapt to each others' cultures, then let us repect them as valid ways for other people, even as we cling to our own because God (BhS) has given us a way that He wishes us to folow. We must allow every one of us the dignity of being free to choose his own path to God, and be willing to offer advice if asked, but not to forbid a way that God has given to another.
So that is my resolution for the New Year, and I hope that many of you will share in it. I believe that God (BhS) will be pleased to see us trying to love and appreciate each other as He does.
I wish you all "shalom," and a blessed New Year. May you find what happiness and prosperity you need, and meet with God coming to find you on the path of your choice. And may there be Peace on Earth, and good will toward all, according to God's will... insh'allah. Good night.