a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

What if God Shuffled by…

Posted on: February 17, 2011

dmb fire dancer

I am a self-confessed Dave Matthews Band lover.  I fell in love with DMB around 1997 when the first few chords of “Satellite” blared over the surround-sound speakers in Lisa Ferguson’s Chevy Tahoe.  Since then I can honestly say that they are the only band that I continually turn to at any moment of my life.  There was a time when I was convinced that Dave was writing lyrics torn from the pages of my personal diary…

“…she says I pray, but they fall on deaf ears.  Am I supposed to take it all myself to get out of this place.  There’s a loneliness inside her and she’d do anything to fill it in.  And though its red blood bleeding from her now it feels like cold blue ice in her heart.  When all the colors mix together to grey…

…she feels like kicking out all of the windows and setting fire to this life she could change everything about her using colors bold and bright but all the colors mix together to grey…”

When I first heard that song, “Grey Street” I absolutely burst into tears, it literally was exactly how I was feeling at that time in my life.  I’d just broken up with my fiance (because I was gay)  I was scared, confused, deeply depressed and deeply in need of figuring out who I was.  It took 5 years of searching before it all sorted itself out but I always, to this day, find happiness in the music of Dave Matthews Band, no matter if that means I’m stuck in the late 90′s.

On Wednesday’s conversion class Rabbi S. asked us to consider who God is for us and what faith is to us and like a cow chewing its cud I’m still turning it around in my head.  There is a very small part of me that thinks of Zeus when I think of God; male, high in heaven, angry, lightening bolt.  There’s another large part of me that still holds onto my years of Paganism and I see God as a mother; beautiful, stern, nurturing.  Then there’s a part of me that doesn’t understand the God of the Torah.  A part of me that doesn’t understand the need for God in 2011 yet sees God in my nephews and in children.  Sometimes I think God is far away, not listening, and at others it’s like God is in everything I see.

One of my favorite books left on the cutting room floor of the Christian Bible is the Gospel of Thomas.  It was found in  1945 in a cave in Egypt.  People call it the Lost Gospel and because of the movie “Stigmata” it got a lot of attention.  It has many of the same stories of Jesus as the other Gospels but will not, as far as anyone can tell, be added to the Bible.  The thing that I find remarkable about it isn’t the “insight into Jesus’ thoughts” but rather the message that God is in everything and in everyone and that The Kingdom of Heaven is in the here and now.  It’s a tricky theology because it requires you to live in the moment and to see goodness and godliness in everyone and everything, which can be difficult. 

Rabbi S. said that his idea of God changes and I think that it’s safe to say that mine probably does as well.  Faith is an entirely different subject.  I have a hard time with the word Faith because of my Catholic/Baptist up bringing.   When I hear the word I invariably think of  blind faith in God and taking the Bible for the spoken word of God.  That part is hard for me to separate from what it means to have faith as a Jew and as an adult.  I’m quite literally shaking my head as I write this because for whatever reason that it’s easy for me to say that I believe in God, it’s not so easy to say that I have faith because I think as human beings we have so much control over, well almost everything that there seems to be no room for faith.

For instance, something as simple as writing this book.  I don’t just have faith that it will get finished, picked up by an agent and then by a publishing company I’m actually working to finish it and then get it out there for those things to happen.  I can’t just hope that the world will be a better place or pray for it to be a better place, I have to get out there and do something to make those changes happen.  I hate when things would go wrong in my life or the life of others and hear a pastor say, “You’ve gotta have faith”  How is a logical person, possibly dying of cancer or in need of a job going to just “have faith”?  This isn’t to say turning yourself over to a higher power isn’t an option but, you also do the foot work.  Get another opinion, seek out treatment, work on your resume, go on interviews, head back to school.  As a logically thinking, dare I say, science-minded human where is the room for faith?

The reason that I’m not an atheist and as hard as I tried to be a non-believer-I do belive in God.  It’s because of my  belief in God, belief in a higher power, belief in something bigger than me that I found this path of Judaism.   I’m here and not there because Judaism requires me to learn and not to have blind faith but to seek out the answers to my questions.  Judaism asks me not to believe based on blind faith but to find what faith means to me, which is what I’m trying to figure out and may never know.

3 Responses to "What if God Shuffled by…"

I don’t think I really understand the concept of “faith”?

me either!! which is why i’m having a hard time with it! it’s hard for me to seperate the concept of faith that i was brought up with and thinking of faith as anything else than the concept i was brought up with…it’s clearly a question for my next one-on-one!

Someone reminded me today of the difference between having faith and continuing in faithfulness. I had let it slip my mind for a while.

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