Ironically, I had just finished my three-year project to become a Credentialed Religious Educator with the UUA. I should have been joyful and full of purpose. But I was unsettled, emotionally and spiritually. My husband, Kevin, and I were fixing up our house in order to sell it – it would be our first move in 25 years. And, of course, there was plenty of work for me at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany. Kevin was patient with my weary, almost nightly question, “What’s the point of all this?” And by “this,” I meant more than just the house and work.
That fall I read a piece by Hope Perlman, a local blogger who recounted her experience on Rosh Hashanah, the holiest of Jewish holidays. She meant to be in services that morning. But at 10 am she was still in her PJs and gnawing on a pie crust. “Why do anything?” she asked. “Why not just eat the crust off the apple pie and stop the morning shoulder and neck exercises? Who cares if I can turn my head anyway? There’s nothing to see.” Oh, how these thoughts sounded familiar to me!
Hope finally made it to services that evening and was moved by the tale of a rabbi who kept two scraps of paper in his pocket. One said, “I am dust and ashes.” The other said, “The world was made for me.” He would take out each slip of paper as necessary, as a reminder to himself.
“I am dust and ashes.” “The world was made for me.” For a year, I gingerly held on to those conflicting ideas. They didn’t answer my intense questions about life and the Ultimate, but they did ground me just enough to be OK spiritually. For almost a year I moved through my world simply being OK with not having the answers.
In the summer of 2013, I brought my questions, my uncertainty, my curiosity to the Wellspring. The readings were inspiring. I was so moved by the stories of my fellow Wellspringers. I was blessed in my meetings with my spiritual director.
Now I am so much more joyful as I continue in my spiritual development. I don’t have all the answers, of course, but I’ve started some helpful spiritual practices. The next time you see me, you might notice that I often wear a bracelet on each arm now – one is grey to remind me of ashes, and the other is blue to remind me of the world.
The writer is Director of Religious Education at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany (NY).