Facing Another End of a Year

I speak at 130 word a minute, with a 60,000 words in a vocabulary. In a recognizable way. It is said that if a child did not speak by age 5, it was unlikely the child would ever speak. Therapists focus on speech which maybe would work, including physical activities, with music.

And did you have some kind of spiritual vocabulary? A recognizable spiritual vocabulary, in a more and more spiritual but not religious world?

As another church year ends. Today. The Christian world does not hear the same story each year, as the world of Judaism does when their year comes to a close. Like the reading of the Akedah.

In the way of religion, if you did not know God by the age of seven, did it ever seem unfair? Since my graduation from Creighton University, it was not quite the world that I had expected. Lately, it was not quite the church I had expected. And I have come to believe that creation was not the world that God quite expected either. The old neighborhood had changed. It was not so much one ethnic group. Kids no longer were immersed in one culture, or even seemed to be interested in one culture. Or in just one tradition.

Creighton was a Catholic Jesuit University. The Jesuits make a pretty good attempt to pass on the tradition of what it truly means to be Catholic. A short time after I graduated, a more than a half-blind Jesuit had come to town.

As another church year ends, what Larry Gillick calls “God’s continuation syndrome,” David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, wrote about in his introduction of his book Reporting, “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over.”

Stories based upon relationships, weddings, and religion. Relationships which are always a struggle. And God, Larry Gillick the half-blind Jesuit says from Omaha, is “always beginning over and over again to share over and over divine love” with you and me.

Once and for all. For all time. Through a human person. In stories. And what these stories meant to me.

What had Abraham been trying to do? What was it like to face the end? Once and for all. For all time. In the Akedah? What was it like facing your own ending? When there was Isaac. And the stories thereof: Of Abraham and Isaac, seeming facing their end. On Mount Moriah. When that euphoric feeling of love will only take you so far when it comes to enduring the ups and downs of a relationship. When, if someone is forced into a relationship, there is a natural resulting anger. Anger mostly over what is expected of them. In a religion or in a marriage. A forced relationship, when you were immersed, not at all unlike an arranged marriage.

So there was Isaac, forced into a relationship — first of all as a son. And then by his father into a relationship with Abraham’s God. Not unlike a relationship which ultimately involved the risky business of marriage. For the future, where humans were to train yourself to embrace a daily routine that mirrors eternity in its changelessness. When, at least men get bored, if not women. In daily routine, with relationship as a daily way of life. Unable to shake boredom. As that euphoric feeling of love gives way to acedia, best described as the absence of care. That euphoric feeling of love — when your father was ready to kill you in the name of religion — would only take you so far. Isaac, enduring the ups and downs of relationship with the Creator, who called for his murder. Isaac, like anyone forced into a relationship, had to have had a natural resulting anger. To his father. To his God. Anger, like a girl in an arranged marriage, mostly over what is expected of her. Anger from a concept of God, or from a religion, in a what sure looked to be a lot like a form of arranged relationship.

A forced relationship not at all unlike an arranged marriage. “I think there is something to be said for arranged marriages, overall, with lower divorce rates, and more stable,” wrote a woman married to a man from India. “When we date, am I not looking for someone who shares the same values as I do? An Indian American woman, who was torn between love and family wishes and values, having been involved in a relationship for the last five years, is contemplating with an American male making another step forward. It is difficult when I have been ingrained in a culture that believes marriage is about two families coming together over similar values, lifestyles, and histories. And that love is unstable and unreliable, something that will not be able to hold us together.”

“The thinking behind arranged marriages is IF all parties involved are on board with the process, marriage is about shared values. However, that is not to say that love is not important and does not have its place but I believe it is important to share ingrained values in the way of approaching life. I believe the intentions with the ideals of an arranged marriage are good, until a point when people impose their ways upon someone else,” she writes.

Stories from the beginning. Once and for all. For all time. Stories of The Messiah. The love lesson. Almost silently, God had visited. To pass on a way of life. To all of us humans with “civil rights” and free will. It was a struggle to pass on to those made in the image and likeness of God – Me, You — a way of life. ‘Everlasting life.’ Amidst all of life’s pain, amidst all of the change. Whether you were born in India, in Israel, or Indiana, the question was always about how to pass on another form of life. What had the Messiah been trying to do? In his own arranged relationship which he had to figure out for himself.

It was the end of another church year. And there was the celebration of The Messiah. Facing once more, Larry Gillick writes, the call of God “to allow ourselves to be loved, and still do something about this world. Facing the end, like Abraham and Isaac. Or facing the end like Jesus of Nazareth.

God in His incredible subtleness, day in and day out. And so another church year ends. Those feelings of always being unworthy. Until you eventually figured some things out. About the tradition that love is available if you believed in the stories. These end of life stories. On National Day of Listening. Bring in the great teachers, at universities like in Omaha, with a meaningful systems of communications for those of us through no fault of their own who needed a shared vocabulary. In a recognizable way, including physical activities, with music.

A lesson of awareness with so many people struggling to find answers, desiring to have children who might mirror their own tradition, thrilled to find someone who mirrors themselves. Thrilled to be in an authentic relationship that is blessed. The same stories, over and over. A story that ends in a recognizable way, in love, as well as ‘Everlasting Life.’ The story of The Messiah.

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