Bread, stones and water

Kayla Bat Mitzvah

The ocean refuses no river.  Whatever religion you may, or may not, follow, as we humans evolve toward a more unified understanding of our situation here on planet earth, we might borrow from each other’s myths and traditions to celebrate our unique diversity as well as our collective unity.  The world is both a paradise and a “prisoner’s dilemma” where the only way to freedom lies in truly working together.

Rosh Hashanah is a big deal in the Jewish calendar.  It literally means “head of the year” and it is connected with fall and the sacred moon.  As a child it meant wearing hot dress-up clothes and being bored out of my mind in temple; it was always the very hottest day of fall and everything would feel itchy and interminable.  When I was old enough to rebel, I never stepped foot in a temple for decades; but after years of appreciating everything from the Bhagavad-Gita, the I Ching, the Yoga sutras and the New Testament, I finally made my way back to the Torah, a bit through the lenses Jung and Joseph Campbell, reading as mythologist and psychologist but also seeking the mystical and the poetry in it too.  No longer threatened or coerced, I could simply find it interesting and, surprisingly, inspiring.

I’m still not religious, but in order to know where we’re going in this world we have to know where we’ve been; as the rabbi who married my wife and I once said of the Torah, “I don’t believe everything in it, rather I look at it as my family album.”  He’s a rabbi who lets you think for yourself, and so even though I see him two or three days a year at this season, I feel no guilt and I deeply appreciate his lone path of limited followers, infused with true spirit.

Although we often struggle to “love our neighbors as ourselves” as Jesus advises (not to mention that we struggle to love our own selves, and particularly to even know our own selves—as real understanding is a basis for true love), if we were able to love each and every “other,” particularly children who have clearly done nothing to ruin this world, as if all of them were our own children, we advance on our spiritual journey, evoking and inviting good feelings that last.  I know this is much, much easier said than done, but herein lies the very heart and soul of parenting:  our children teach us how to love unconditionally and beyond our own selves.  We fail again and again, yet our kids are a tear in the veil between the material and spirit worlds—windows into Buddha nature and eternal love.

A nice tradition at Rosh Hashanah is to say prayers by a river and drop bread or pebbles into the moving water as a symbol of relinquishing “sins.”  I prefer to think about it as letting go of anger, resentment, sorrow, guilt, shame, inauthenticity, fear, desire and anything else that blocks us from living and loving in the splendor of the eternal right now, with all its love and hate, drama and tranquility.  This is not found in the Torah, but in Ecclesiastes 11:1 the New Testament says to cast your bread upon the water, suggesting that in many days it will come back to you.  In one case we relinquish sin and in another we symbolically model generosity; we all have burdens and we all have the capacity to give love; the river keeps us alive and washes away our waste; perhaps it’s time to love the river.  As Rumi, a Muslim poet said, “Out beyond right and wrong there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”

If you can happen by a river, or choose to make use of the sea… or only do it in your mind’s eye, and whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, all of the above or “other,” consider relinquishing some stones or crumbs today into the river of life—do it in honor of all our collective children.

Shalom, Peace, Namaste, Bruce

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One Response to “Bread, stones and water”

  1. krk Says:

    I relish the idea of letting the river carry away the “stuff” inside of us that keeps
    us unsatisfied.
    Thanks and love,krk

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