Monday, March 14, 2011

finding the creative voice

Finding the Creative Side: Part Three
Part of the problem between us and God may relate to a problem that focuses on ignoring the creative side of ourselves. Let’s face it when we start asking questions about god and speculating about why we are here in this universe and whether God really cares about us we are tapping into the creative wellspring that makes us human.
As a parent I remember asking my daughter to do creative things like be a ballet dancer and study the piano. She did both of these activities for years. Like most parents we started our kids off on them for physical training, mental acuity and discipline. They did them all and we took pleasure especially when they actually enjoyed themselves. But we knew that it was about developing their creative instincts.
I wonder whether we cared as much about those instincts when it came to religion. Sure we took them to Hebrew school and Sunday schools. It started out as fun in the early years. But we all knew what happened as they grew older. They began to see that serving God was akin to serving Pharaoh when it came to after school Hebrew or getting up early to Sunday school at Temple. They began to resent it and protest and resist us and we became Pharaohs to our children. What happened to the creative, God searching side, the side of our kids that showed us wonder with their imagination about God? What happened to it?
Not for all Jewish kids but for a lot of them Judaism became too much of a period of servitude rather than sacred service or growing the spirit. Too many other activities competing for their time is one rationale.  A world that does not value Torah learning is another one. Parents who are not involved personally in their faith and preach one line of expectation but who do not practice it in their lives becomes another explanation about why kids lose their interest in religion.  God can be found in the pages of the books in the Temple library but the problem is that few open the books and then God becomes invisible. If so, is it no wonder that people lose interest in their religious affiliation?
The challenge is to rekindle that sense of wonder. Grandparents can absolutely do this. Parents can too. Kids need to see their parents striving and learning. They may not show it but they will do it in their way eventually. They still model us for good and for bad. We are never too old to set an example for our kids and our grandchildren. So we all need to get going and get out of our comfort zones to become creative again. We can find God in ways we never thought imaginable. I love watching my congregants take on new hobbies and passions in the community. Social activism is definitely one way. I cannot tell how many people in my current congregation who are retired and were never active in a temple or the Jewish community. Yet when they retired they started to explore joining a temple and now they are amongst the most active in the congregation.  Retirement does bring us to the pathway of spiritual renewal. We just have to resist the all too familiar feeling of avoiding things that represent change. Change can be good. Change can help us grow spiritually.  Taking the time to really think about the way we conceive of God and building on that with continued to learning is absolutely a wonderful opportunity for growth.
You do not have to be a trained scholar to engage the Eternal One. Just be a person strives to discover and to learn. We are all on a journey in our lives. Deriving the most meaning and the truth of the life we live is part of the religious quest. God is part of that quest.  Take a step to read a book or write a thought. One day at a time.


jeff said...

Hi Rabbi Bloom,
Wendi and I have been fortunate that our daughter (Mira) enjoys being part of a Jewish home. She enjoyed the challenge of learning Hebrew. We all look forward to the "family time" we get lighting shabbat candles every Friday night.
I understand what you mean about retired people re-connecting. I see it with my 70 year parents.

Rabbi Brad L. Bloom said...

thanks for your comments.
i wish you and wendi and mira a shabbat shalom