Lily's first book recommendation

On the way out of Lily's preschool today I picked up a book and sat down in the library to read.  On the way in she had pointed it out to me and announced "Mom- that is a good book.  I LOVE that book."  

It was One Family, by George Shannon.

It's a simple counting book with a profound message of unity.  Two, Three, Four, Five... all become one.  Two socks, one pair, 5 bananas, one bunch, 8 crayons, one box... many people, one family.

The last page predictably, but no less sweetly, shows all the differently-hued families waving to each other walking through town.  

Later I had coffee with a new friend and relished in the gift of spending an hour talking about faith, family and this journey of life.  My friend spoke to me about her connection to Judaism and the different ways that it can feel right for different people.  She made a safe space so that I could reflect on all the times I felt like an outsider looking in, wanting to belong, feeling both Jewish and not Jewish enough, welcomed and set aside.  

At this point in my life, I am coming to see that it is invaluable to me to hear other people's spiritual and religious stories, and to find connections between us.  I used to think that I had to pick one, that there would be no belonging until I chose one and set aside all the rest.  But if I truly believe we are all talking about the same God, seeing different sides, interpreting the messages through different lenses, choosing one becomes less imperative.  

My new friend pointed out that there will always be people within Judaism who will judge how you perform Judaism.  I don't know why I expected it to be any different from everything else in life.  Let's face it: humans tend to judge.  And it's not as if Judaism is the only place in life I have felt judged.  My awkward self feels that way every time I walk outside my house.  We can't wait to find the perfect house of worship.  Another friend recently quoted her pastor who said "Even if you find the perfect church, it stops being perfect the minute you step foot into it, because none of us is perfect."  

For now, I am giving myself space to accept my Unitarian soul.  I give myself permission to explore what is meaningful to me and to my family.  Jewish, Unitarian, Interfaith.  Many people, One People, all of us.

Emily GoldbergComment