Oh my goodness. I had such a lovely day today. Fellow Seeker and I had plans to visit a Jewish Temple with Veteran Seeker, his (well, our) newest friend. V.S. got his degree in Religious Studies - how awesome is that?? I kept bouncing questions off of him and he knows everything. The temple was for Reformed Jews so it was fairly lax and very welcoming to everyone, including Gentiles. Let me tell you... it was one of the loveliest experiences I have ever had in my life. I really mean that.
It was not unlike a Christian church, in that it had pews and stained-glass windows and prayer books. There was even a choir, but it was concealed above us and behind a curtain. That was remarkable. There was no distraction of looking at the choir - there was just this heavenly music throughout. I especially loved when they sang in Hebrew rather than English. It also reminded me of the Episcopalian church because there were parts that the congregation had to recite in response to what the rabbis said. F.S. described the prayers perfectly by likening them to poetry.
When the time came to read the Torah, the back wall of the sanctuary actually opened up to reveal the scrolls. Unbelievable. I was mesmerized by the entire service. I may have mentioned once before that Future Priest took me to a Catholic chapel months ago, and during the entire time that I was there, I felt this overwhelming peace all the way down to my core. I felt that same peace today. I wonder why I haven't felt it in other houses of worship. That is not to say that they are less holy, I just have a different experience with them, that's all. But, why?
Obviously Christian doctrine is always with me, and while the service was going on, I thought to myself, "There is no way that people who are seeking God in this manner could go to hell. It just wouldn't be fair at all." Similarly, in other religions, all around the world... how can we believe that variety and cultural factors and personal experience are negative things when it comes to spirituality? I feel that they make up spirituality, and what would it be without them? Cookie-cutter spirituality. Ick. That nagging Only Christians Go To Heaven mentality is really starting to bug me. I don't believe it anymore, I'm just annoyed by its presence at all.
I also had a strong feeling that the God that they were worshipping was my God too. That their God and the Christian God and my God are all One. (Yes, I know that Christians appropriated the God of the Jews and their Scriptures, but that's not what I'm talking about.) Not just because I would like to believe that... I just really felt that that was the case. I could recite their prayers and listen to them sing and feel that we were all connecting to the God that I have known all my life. I still know Him, I just don't know much about Him anymore (and goodness, do I hate saying "Him!" Friggin social conditioning.)
I told F.S. and V.S. that I would love to go every week (well, whenever none of us are working). We also discussed our Unitarian church visit plans. That should come up in a couple of weeks or so. Also, we had this joke going about conspiracies. For example, there's the Right Wing Conspiracy that consists of trying to evangelize everyone, and the Homosexual Conspiracy which is striving to undermine the institution of marriage. There's also a Feminist Conspiracy, of course - trying to undermine the family unit! Hours after we went to Temple and had dinner together, we found ourselves in an Irish pub (how else do you end a truly spiritual day?) When we got our drinks, someone suggested a toast, and we tried to figure out what to toast. I said, "To our conspiracy - undermining organized religion and coming up with our own crap!" And we drank to that.