the festival of lights

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George wanted to be Jewish for the jokes? I'm kinda like that, except for the jokes part. I want to be Jewish for the remembrances.

My godmother, who is a librarian, gave me the book Girl Meets God as a high school graduation present. It's the memoir of Lauren Winner, the daughter of a Jew and an Episcopalian who chooses to become an Orthodox Jew. Complications arise when she begins graduate work at Oxford and explores Christianity and begins attending an Anglican church. The resulting book discusses her eventual conversion to Christianity and her struggles to reconcile her Jewish past with her Christian future.

It's fascinating. She talks about the parts of Judaism that she loves the most, and I agree with her on many points. Notably, we Christians spend hardly any time remembering. Lauren talks about that, and how Judaism is about remembering all the time--through ritual, dress, and food.

Too often, in Christianity, we focus only on the New Testament; and really, only with the Gospels. While they are the foundation of Christianity, we forget to remember what God was before there was Jesus. People's knowledge of the Old Testament falls under one of a four stories: Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, David and Goliath. And really, all of David's story people might know about was when he fought Goliath, and maybe something about a woman named Jezebel.
As a people, we've forgotten where we came from. I find my life is strangely like that.

I think this has been preying on my mind for the last few weeks because of my uncanny ability to forget large parts of my life. The biggest part I've forgotten (through limited brain space or other psychological issues) is college. For the most part, I remember what I paid to learn, but I've forgotten much of what I did during those three years. I find that unsettling and disturbing. What was I thinking? I ask that question in horror as well as introspection.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like perhaps I was, in a way, mourning the death of who and what I was before I left home. In my life before college, I was very outgoing, confident, and so sure of myself all the time. When I came to college I was a nobody--no one knew who I was or where I was from. Many people revel in something like that...having the opportunity to re-make themselves and be what they've always wanted to be. I didn't feel that way. I liked who I was. I missed my family, and my friends were a poor approximation of what I missed in my familial relationships. For some reason, I felt like I couldn't be (or shouldn't be?) who I was when I was at home.

So much of what I do remember from college was going through the motions of being a student, a friend, or a girlfriend, and it all seemed to be in avoidance of losing something, or a failure of creating and discovering who I was (am) as an adult.

I think my present to myself this year will be to be unashamed with what I like and dislike, and embracing myself for who I am. That, and I'm starting a journal. I want to start remembering, so I can start living purposely again.

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