Ossified. That’s the problem with religion these days; and “spirituality” easily slips into line with religion, our beliefs becoming fixed, staid, musty … ossified. It’s not what Abraham was, or Moses was, or Deborah or Ruth or David or Isaiah or Daniel. It’s not what Jesus was! And when I am with Jan Salzman, I am reminded of the vitality and energy there is in the scriptures Jesus had access to. Jan is such a wonderful teacher because she is a “listener” – listening to Torah, to the Talmud, listening to life as it plays out all around her and within her.Ruach haMaqom

Rabbi Salzman reminded me recently that God Is A Verb. In the introduction to his book by that title, Rabbi David Cooper laments how ossified the stories and teachings of the Hebrew Bible have become – spirituality reduced to propositions which must be believed rather than a vibrant conversation to be had – conversation which inspires activity within and without.

We sat in a synagogue in what used to be called “Little Jerusalem”. Sometimes one needs a certain place to sit in order to do the inner work required to inspire faithful action. As our conversation concluded, Jan asked us to take a card – a Mitzvah Card.  The card I drew is pictured above – not just a religiously motivated “good deed”, but a way for me to acknowledge, honor and create a new connection. That is what religion / spirituality is really about – making connections. Sitting in a synagogue mysteriously forges in me a stronger connection to my Christianity because it creates among us gathered there more loving connections with each other.

In the past several weeks we have witnessed intensified expressions of connectivity. Many are unwilling to be forced into (ossified as) exclusive categories. People are writing, marching, proclaiming “Sanctuary” as a testimony to humankind’s need for community. We sat in with the rabbi of Congregation Ruach haMaqom – “the spirit of the place”: Orthodox Christian; United Methodist; Christian Science; Baha’i; Jewish. We discussed miracles and providence and free will. We picked a mitzvah – faith in action. We sunk deeper into our own traditions while we gained greater breadth of understanding of each others.

Look for the place where the Rabbi is “In”. Find the place to be where you can connect with the Rabbi, and with each other.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.