At least this Jewish mother …
Best wishes to my friends and readers who celebrate freedom this week. Happy Passover.
No matter how blurred or undefined my picture of God is, no matter how my connection to religion swells or retreats; the one God-related belief I hold fairly dear is omniscience. If God were a storyteller, let’s say, he’d be third person with both a bird’s eye and a worm’s eye view of all that ever was and all that ever is and all that ever will be.
Which means, I also believe, that God laughs a lot.
Laughs at our missteps, our confusion, our despair — in a loving, playful way, the way a parent might smile watching her toddler fall hard on his bottom over and over again in his attempts to learn to walk.
Or the way a writer foolishly grins as he shapes his characters because a writer is, in a way, in love with all the characters he creates — no matter how ugly or beautiful, how wise or how foolish.
I don’t necessarily believe that God is omnipotent, however. I don’t believe he interferes in the doings of man, though I do imagine that he might adjust the direction or speed of the wind from time to time so that man might meaningfully turn his head or shift his gaze. I believe that God watches us, and more than anything else concrete, I understand God as a representation of that great unattainable knowledge and understanding I’ll never have, but will never stop seeking.
I imagine, too, from his third person point of view, God watches us with great compassion.
I wish I could borrow some of this compassion from time to time when I tell myself my own story; as I do when I lie in bed at night and review my day; as I do when I tell “truths” about myself or make claims about how other people see me (as if I could really know).
Or when I dig through the first person evidence of my life: When I read my old journals (and cringe at my naive innocence or unabashed immaturity); or remember (out of the blue or obsessively) the things I’ve done I wish I hadn’t or wish I had handled differently.
Did you ever notice how much compassion we can summon up for others? For strangers especially? How our hearts swell when someone else is dwelling on what they once did wrong?
Yet, it’s insanely difficult — if not near impossible — to summon up that same compassion for ourselves. To allow ourselves to view our stories as God might or as the third person omniscient narrator would– minus regret, minus shame, minus fear — simply with close observation, the space for varied interpretations, and occasionally, with a playful compassionate laugh out loud.
I am often troubled when I hear people use the word “serendipity” when I think they mean “synchronicity.” But I never really investigated the difference between the two words.
In my unresearched opinion, I always imagined synchronicity as attached to “meaningful” or extraordinary. Whereas serendipity is more playful, like a cup of frozen hot chocolate.
Lucky. Fortuitous. Unexpected. Right place at the right time sorta thing. Whereas synchronicity … when it happens … almost feels as if its arrival was fated. Expected, even if not by the participants. Anticipated, in some way, even if unseen to all but the gods until the very moment the synchronicity occurs.
Synchronicity, to me, carries in its meaning a certain divinity, a certain magic.
So much so that I remember distinctly when and where I was when I first heard the word and its layperson’s explanation. I was at the lake house of a friend in celebration of her engagement. While dipping my feet in the lake, I chatted with a friend of the bride-to-be whom I’d never met before. She shared with me the details of a paper she was working on (perhaps her Master’s thesis or her dissertation), all on the topic of this experience called “synchronicity.”
I admitted to her that I’d never heard the word before.
“Oh,” she smiled. “But you’ve certainly had this experience.” She went on to describe what I had always thought of (at least since reading The Celestine Prophecy in 9th grade) as “meaningful coincidence.”
However, “meaningful coincidence” always sounded lame. Such a deeply moving or spiritual encounter needed a better descriptor.
“Synchronicity,” a word steeped in the concept of time (my favorite philosophical topic of conversation both then and now), was perfect for me. I was so thankful for having met this woman at the lake. Our meeting was, in fact, meaningful. Synchronicitous (synchronistic?), we joked at the time.
Walking alone is
often the first step towards
This, indeed, is what I was going for when I was trying to describe the outcome of a walk alone I took yesterday. Too me, synchronicity, isn’t just a word, but a timely, yet timeless explanation for magic, for meaning, for connection.
When “alone” unexpectedly transforms into “no longer alone.” And loneliness is replaced by oneness.
For my 15-minute Friday exercise, I jotted down some thoughts I had while celebrating/not-celebrating the Jewish High Holidays in Israel this year.
The poem I produced out of this exercise may be found here on The Times of Israel and is a culmination of both my confusion and my devotion; of my acceptance and my denial. It is an admission of judgment — of myself, as well as others. And it is a declaration of hope.
Or maybe it’s just a poem.
A whim. A wish. An exercise. A prayer.