EastOver is a major holiday in our family. On our Catholic side, Lent and Easter are the most important Liturgical time of the year for us and obviously you all know how important Passover is without me having to explain it.
While I look forward to watching The Ten Commandments with my parents as we have done every year for as long as I remember, I also look forward to the end of Lent.
This year for Lent I gave up what many people do: meat. But I also gave up something I struggle with (as you are supposed to), in my case irritation and a potty mouth. Given my stress levels the last few weeks, this has been no easy task. To top it off, his Holiness, Pope Benedict announced his history-making retirement. What poetic and poignant timing he had to mark this Lenten season with new leadership just in time to celebrate the Resurrection.
I felt so abandoned.
I thought it was supposed to be blood in/blood out. Like the gangsters.
My Catholic mother scoffed at my feelings of abandonment.
“If you feel so abandoned why don’t you jump ship to your Jewish side?”
She had a point. It wasn’t like this was the first time I felt let down by my church. In fact, she pointed out that rarely do I even seek counsel from my priest anymore.
I don’t seek counsel from him because I struggle to see how he can advise me on matters he does not experience. He entered the seminary so young in life, never married, no early girlfriends that he ever talks about. Yet coming to him with these questions would be like me answering questions on what it’s like to be pregnant when I’m infertile. While he can have sympathy for me, he cannot empathize.
I’m so lucky though to have a rabbi in my life, one I was connected to through my writing here at The Times of Israel, who always makes me me feel comfortable to talk to. His gentle manner always knows the right questions to probe without pushing, and assists me in arriving to conclusions by challenging my thinking. It is through his support that I have found deeper meaning in the concept of faith.
But I’m still struggling with this. I’m still feel like I’m walking around singing an off key version of R.E.M’s song: “that’s me in the corner…losing my religion”.
So if the Church is letting me down so much, why haven’t I jumped ship as my mom asked?
I chose this.
I wasn’t baptized Catholic as an infant unable to make the choice for myself as many are. I grew up in an interfaith home. My parents said educate yourself and make a choice. Choose what’s right for you. I chose as an adult to become Catholic. I chose to still honor my dad by keeping a Jewish fusion home.
So as I wait with bated breath like the rest of the world to see who the new Pope is, I also am reminded of a beautiful excerpt I saved from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s FoxNews op-ed last year on the crossover of Easter and Passover.
Who doesn’t need to be reminded that however dark and cold the winter has been, the promise of spring – of rebirth and renewal is always there? Whether discovered in the story of a nation that goes from freedom to slavery and back to freedom again, or in the story of one who lives, dies and is born again, we must all locate how to celebrate that life holds more possibility and potential than we first imagine – that there is reason for hope, and that in celebrating triumphs of hope from the past, we can unleash new stories of hope in the present and in the future.
With those beautiful words, I regain perspective and remind myself that it’s not just at Easter or Passover that we need to be reminding ourselves of this. It’s every day that we need to keep our hope alive and not let our egos or personal issues cloud our vantage points.