Ministerial Muses—11.1.2018—Tree of Life

Posted November 2nd, 2018 by anna and filed in Ministerial Muses
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Reprinted from Let the Spirit Guide You!

Voices from Inside the Mountain

This issue of Let The Spirit Guide You! is embarrassingly late. Normally I am very self-disciplined and self-motivated. For the last month, however, I couldn’t seem to make myself sit down at the computer and pull this issue together. Then a 97-year-old holocaust survivor was gunned down by an American anti-semite at a service in her synagogue in Pittsburgh. She survived Hitler, only to be slaughtered in one of the friendliest multi-cultural neighborhoods in the world.
Like the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC did before them, the Tree of Life Synagogue rose above their personal grief to affirm love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of revenge, and celebration of lives well-lived instead of fear.
My friend, Carol Sendar, was a child during World War II. She carried the memory of her parents fear that the Nazis would bomb their Staten Island home with her until the day she died. I thought of it as residual family trauma. On Sunday, I realized that she lived her life with the knowledge of just how close beneath the surface this terrible hatred was.
A year after Carol died, the family invited me to join a small group that attended the unveiling of the headstone on her grave. It was then that I learned of the Jewish custom of leaving stones on the headstone during graveside visits. It was a special moment to be included in that meaningful ritual by her mother, brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew. I was distraught to see that custom used as part of a photo op. At the same time, I was grateful to Rabbi Myers for not playing into the political drama by refusing a Presidential visit, instead making sure that the Presiden’s attention (and the media’s) was focused on the human beings who had been killed.
My sense is that this incident is a pivotal moment in American history, perhaps a turning point built on the many, many incidents that have come before it. I am still too caught up in my own emotions to see clearly how this will move through time and be recorded by history. It does, however, seem that something about the quiet, determined, and dignified grieving in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh might be the equivalent of Edward R. Morrow finally speaking out against Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror decades ago.
We are living in transformative times. I just heard that Generation Z is already more diverse than not. A white majority in America is soon to be a thing of the past. The rise of violence to try and turn back that tide is an admission of the futility of those efforts. They are desperate attempts to maintain the viability of opposition to a changing world.
But survival of the species is the first priority of the human race. As those of us who have been in this battle for decades begin to waiver, young people are stepping up to take over. Instead of battering at establishment infrastructure like my generation did in the 60’s, they appear to be carefully strategizing, looking for ways to use the system to accomplish what they want. I am watching the politicians who aren’t chasing haters launch appeals to the young people who are just now becoming old enough to vote. I believe that I’m seeing more and more people betting on the future instead of the past.
For those who follow numerolgy, 11 is a master number that represents enlightenment. (The duality comes into equal balance preparing to be elevated by creative merging.) 11 people died in the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday. I believe that the transition we are living through now is the movement from the dominance of 11 to the dominance of the master number 12 (the 1 overseeing the duality of 2). I believe that the violence of September 11, 2001 signaled the beginning of the manifestation of this major change. My sense is that the Tree of Life Synagogue violence signals the completion of that cycle. After 9/11/2001, the healing groups that I work with spent much time helping the victims of that incident successfully make their transition in the wake of the trauma. As I scan the 11 victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, I feel no need to reach out to help with their crossing. Their faith and the faith of their fellow congregants has already seen them safely to the other side. (I mean no disrespect by imposing my own interpretation of the afterlife onto them.) These people died with elegance and the quality of their sacrifice is being carefully guarded by their spiritual community, and by extension, the neighborhood they worshiped in.
This incident has taken me to the depths of despair, but with an open door. My generation might be leaving future generations with a mess but we have also pointed them toward the seeds of their survival. And we remain in the game as best we can.

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