|28 Jun 2004 @ 23:24, by Robert Oveson|
The Tapestry is a program exploring faith and spirit that airs on Sunday afternoons and is hosted by Mary Hynes. It is an hour of inspiration.
On the June 27th program Harold Kushner was interviewed on latest book The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm. Although I haven't read the book I was very impressed by the interview and I will be keeping an eye open for it in the second hand book stores.
The 23rd Psalms is the shortest book in the bible, in HEBREW 57 words, and is also the most well known. Kushner said the Psalm is not literate, but poetry, and poetry is that which is lost in translation. Each of the fifteen lines is explained in a seperate chapter of his book.
This a story of a journey through the valley of the shadow of death, which is life. God's purpose is not to punish people for any transgressions, nor to prevent bad things from happening to those that are true believers, but rather to be there to comfort people and let them know that they are not alone. The world isn't fair, and not everything has a reason; stuff happens. Kushner explains that he stopped trying to justify or provide an explanation to people that have suffered a tragedy and simply made himself available as a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold.
Two of the greatest gifts that God has given us is resiliency and memory. These are two things that cannot be taken from us. Resiliency is what enables to recover from the shock and trauma of life's stress. Memory is what allows us to keep the lessons learned without having to relive the pain that it took to learn them, and also to relive the joy past their physical experience. Above all, resiliency and memory enable us in hindsight to see life as having been worth living regardless of what happens.
Life involves the experience of passing through the valley of the shadow of death, and then emerging out the other side. This is something that each of us has to do for ourselves, it is not something that is done to us, but at the same time it isn't something that we need to do alone. (This is where I had an insight that a relationship is reciprocal, and just as we have faith in God, God has faith in our ability to make it through this journey called life)
Gratitude is the fundamental feeling of religion. We should be grateful for what we get, and not suffer envy for what others have. What we get is a gift from God and we shouldn't show disrespect of this gift by wishing for more. (Kushner talked quite a bit about this but it started blending in with my inner thoughts and I will save those for a seperate article)
Kushner also talked about the meaning of the anointed as the feeling of being special, and that when you receive this gift from God you want to pass it on and make those around you feel special. This process is the potential within each and everyone of us to cultivate the inner Messiah. He mentioned that there are other theologians just as Harvey Cox from the Christian persuasion that are talking about this as an idea whose time has come.
Throughout this interview I noticed a subtle shift from being saved to being healed. Of how wisdom is something that we learn rather than being something that is given to us. And how all of this requires effort and commitment on our part which makes it different from the quick fixes which we have become accustomed to.
Harold Kushner is the Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick MA. He is also a well known author and this book is among the top ten best selling religious books of the past year. This makes me feel that there are many others that found his message as heart warming as I did, and for this I am very grateful. In my experience it has been the Rabbis that have been the carriers of the wisdom and values of the Jewish people, and I think we all would benifit by listening to them rather than the politicians. The Rabbis are backed with thousands of years of tradition and that is yet another thing for which I'm grateful.