But that’s not quite true.
A multi-tradition family.
We’ve taken two separate and very different childhood religious experiences – Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism, added two individual lifetimes of exploring different paths, and blended all of that together with a smattering of practices pulled from all over, in an adopted community that is "Jew-ish" in flavor and accepting in practicality.
Really, though, there’s just the one faith, the one belief, the one idea:
Compassionately notice where we’ve come from and mindfully note where we are in order to set gentle intentions for where we’d like to go next – always hoping for the best.
Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam shecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higyanu lazman hazeh.
You are Blessed, Our God, Spirit of the World, who has kept us in life, who sustained us and who enabled us to reach this season.
The shehechiyanu is prayed at the beginning of holidays and offers us a moment to pause, to take note of the fact that we’re here, we’re alive and well – we’ve made it to this point. We don’t stop – we pause. And after the prayer are the festivities and moving into what’s next for us.
And really, that’s how we make it work.
We have the one general guideline and the details kinda fall into place.
- Details like the Christmas tree and the ornaments – one from every year, each with its own story to share and a chance to deepen our knowledge and awareness of each other. And Christmas morning – my kids know it’s where I come from, one of the favorite parts of my past that I can share with them.
- Details like the Passover Seder. They know this is where their father comes from and where his (and their) people have journeyed long past. L’dor v’dor – one generation to the next. They know this is where their mother has landed (loosely) finding a place in the practice by compiling a family Haggadah that works for us, where we are now.
- Details like the seasonal rituals that celebrate the changing seasons. Days with “exotic” names like Yule and Ostara that call to mind magic and mystery, that let us do fun things like burn candles and tie ribbons around tree branches. Ceremonies that reflect how much we value Nature and her cycles, and can use them to look ahead to what we’d like the next season to bring for us.
- And details like the new traditions we’ve forged for our kids, ones that are theirs and theirs alone. Like Legos and Latkes – the first night of Hanukkah that we safeguard for ourselves so we can stay in and build our Lego sets and eat our fill of potato pancakes (all lacey around the edges and crispy) with sour cream and sugar.
What’s your guiding belief…idea…conviction? What helps you tie it all together and find the deeper meaning you long for?
May you be kept in life and sustained. As you pause during the season, may you look behind and see growth. And may you look ahead with hope as we say together Amen, Amen.