In the After…

So much pain, fear, and for some–absolute agony and despair. Surprisingly, I’m almost glad that I am not trying to raise children in an environment that’s become so fraught with divisive and negative language and actions. Years and years of watching news reports about political violence following elections in other countries, I could not have imagined it might happen in the United States. Yet, here I am watching the news reports from around the U.S., of peaceful protests turned on a dime because its participants are consumed, in a moment, by that very fear, pain, and agony from the last few days.

I can’t see in my mind’s eye, participating in such a protest; or being so angry at the result of an election that I would resort to violating someone else’s rights or space. Is it because I don’t have children whose future hangs in the balance of decisions made by the current grown-ups of the world? What do we tell them? How can we explain, if possible, to the bi-racial, special needs, and Jewish children in our family that everything will be okay, when we’re so unsure about the future?  I don’t know if I would have the words.

Earlier this week one of my sisters forwarded to me the email sent out from the rabbis at the temple where her two beautiful boys are growing their faith. It is one of very few pieces I’ve read this week that spoke to me in a very personal way. And while I didn’t seek their permission to include this here, I hope they’ll be okay that I have. I am grateful today for the faith leaders in our communities who provide us with the support and guidance to get through difficult times.

Lastly, as we take next steps forward towards an uncertain future….a word of prayer…..
O Guardian of life and liberty,
may our nation always merit blessing.
Teach us to give thanks for what we have
by sharing it with those who are in need.
Keep open our eyes to the wonders of creation,
and alert to the care of the earth.
May we never be lazy in the work of peace;
may we honor those who have died in defense of our ideals.
Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance.
May they govern with justice and compassion.
Help us to appreciate one another,
and to respect the many ways the people serve You.
May our homes be safe from affliction and strife,
and our country be sound in body and spirit.  Amen.

Warmly and with Shalom,

Jay & Todd

Temple Beth Shalom, Needham MA

Other Bloggers’ Thoughts:


What I Know for Sure

what i know for sureFor today’s prompt, tell us three things that you believe in your heart to be true.

Today’s prompt got me to thinking about last night.  I had dinner with my sisters, Mom, Aunt and a friend celebrating her 50th birthday.  2013 for her was, as she put it to us, a shit-year. She said that what got her through was her faith in God and the prayers of the women who joined her at the table.  She’s stronger than she will ever know! She mentioned that this year, already better in so many ways than the last, she is focused on gratitude; sure that’s what will keep joy in her heart.

The other thought that came to mind when I read the prompt, was Oprah Winfrey.  I don’t know if she still does this, but Oprah used to write a “What I Know for Sure” column in her magazine; it was always the last page.  The page highlights some bit of wisdom or insight that Oprah “knew” from her life experience,  and it appeared worthy to share with her readers.  We each know “what we know for sure” to live each day.

It’s a curious thing, to know in your heart, right down to your toes, that something is true.  The same beliefs that get us through difficult situations can bring us to untold levels of joy.  The three things I know in my heart to be true.

1.      Nothing is permanent except for the my faith in God.

2.      My family loves me regardless of my failure or success.

3.      I am a beloved daughter of the Father and NO ONE can take that from me.

Bloggers Know For Sure:


The Luckiest Person, Me!

The prompt today encourages bloggers to write about the first person we saw today.  The first person I see every day is my husband and while I love him to pieces, I’m going to put my own spin on the Luckiest People topic.   The second person this morning I interacted with is a Facebook friend. 

Erik was an AmeriCorps member for two years in the program that I ran several years ago.  He’s married now with two young children.  He’s experienced ups and downs–some that would have completely undone other men.  What strikes me most when I read his posts, is how they are overwhelmingly faith-filled and honest.   I doubt anyone who knows him is surprised by my observation.

Erik familyI read his post today about marriage, he wrote: Each marriage needs to discover the rhythms of their own, and Jessy and I are daily learning that. It gets confusing whenever anyone says that they know THE RIGHT WAY, or BEST way, or GOD’S WAY, simply because those are seldom ever absolute truths.  He also provided a link to a blog that caused him to write his Facebook post today: Decision Making and Mutual Submission in Marriage.

As I often do, I gave his post the “thumbs-up” and liked it.  I shut my laptop cover down and went about my day.  After unloading the shopping bags and putting the weekly grocery haul away, I checked my phone and looked at Facebook.  In the “notifications” bubble it showed that Erik had mentioned me in a post.  Here’s what I read:

@ Kelly: have you ever written about this topic? You are one of my greatest role models, and I was often inspired by your leadership gift when I served with you. I know you’ve earned wisdom over the years in this beautiful mess.

At a time when I will soon embark on a new responsibilities in my job, I find myself  feeling a bit unsure about my leadership capacity.  I read this–it couldn’t have come at a better time for me!  I’ll answer your post sometime soon, Erik; but today, today YOU made me feel like one of the Luckiest People in the world.  Thanks!

Repetition is the Mother of Learning

Repetition is the mother of learning; or so I recall being told on more than one occasion during my childhood. Repetition was certainly the mother of learning your catechism in a Catholic family when I was a kid. Weekday afternoons, usually a Monday or Tuesday, I remember my mom taking us to our catechism classes after school. We’d rush in the side door of the church and down the rubber-covered stairs to the basement. Plowing through the doors to the enormous, echoing room that was divided by rolling walls, we would find our way to our “class” and have a seat in the cold metal folding chairs for an hour.

book pinkPart of the process of learning what you needed to in order to make your First Holy Communion was memorizing prayers and facts. We’d practice at home in front of our mom, naturally, saying our prayers and reciting facts from the St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism like, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the holy days of obligations, and the seven sacraments. If you’re of this era you will remember that the different colors of the books, the pink one if you were younger and the gray one if you were older.

When I was very young and preparing for my first communion my catechism teacher was Mrs. Tougas. gray bookEach week, in order to determine if we’d learned our assignment, we would take turns as she called on us to come up one by one to be questioned. Mrs. Tougas would sit in a chair in front of the group. As we approached our turn we would have our back to the rest of the kids; standing at her shoulder we would dutifully and quietly, so only she heard, deliver the answers we’d repeated over and over again in preparation for that moment. She would only tolerate a rote response to a certain degree…we had to say it like we meant it; or have to say it again until she believed we knew the meaning of what we were declaring. (Just like we had to do at home.)

There were quite a few grownups in the church who would spend their time teaching catechism lessons to the children of the parish, my parents included. I’m sure it was their intent to ready us to receive the sacraments of the Church. But now all these years later, I’d like them to know that the practice of repetition, served as a way not only to ground me in my faith but also keep me connected to a way of doing things that shaped my life.