Friday, August 24, 2012

The Hand of God—Elul 6

We desperately need new ways of thinking about an imaging God, especially in this month of preparing our spirits to come into the Presence. If many of us are no longer comfortable with standing before the Father or Judge as our only way of understanding our relationships to God, how then to think of coming into the Presence? Here is an image from Jane Steger, an American woman born in 1878 who recorded her life’s “adventure of the spirit” in Leaves from a Secret Journal in 1928.
I sometimes think that we are to God as his fingers are to a blind person. Through us He feels of life in all its manifold experiences. Through some of us He feels of happiness, and through some He feels of pain. It consoled me somewhat, when I was unhappy, to think that perhaps He was feeling of suffering through me. ..
The fingers and palm of the hand seem to me to be a good symbol of our relationship to God. We are all separate and distinct and yet all rooted in Him, and we spring from Him as our fingers are rooted in, and spring from, our palm. (p. 51)
Steger’s lovely wondering gives me a new way to think about how to live out what the rabbis said was the focus of our preparation for standing before God: turning or repentance (teshuvah), prayer (tefillah), and tzedakah (charity). Have we amputated our fingers, cut them from their root? What textures of life are we feeling with our fingers? What are we using our fingers to do to and for others?

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