The fourth anniversary
Dad called me on this fourth anniversary of my mom's passing. On the Jewish calendar a candle is lit, called a Yahrzeit candle, a couple of weeks later. The Jewish people insert a month which changes the time span. Today he called as arranged and he described her unpleasant and maybe unjust passing in the hospital, then talked about some of her accomplishments in life, and then quoted a yiddish expression which said 'death is blessed when there is much pain.'
He then said "In religious terms it is better that she is with God." Now my father rarely refers to God directly. As a youth he studied to be a rabbi but later switched into psychology. The realm of human interaction and personal relationships became his world. Life consisted of how one perceived reality and all was relative. Perhaps even needing God could be perceived as an individual need or preference.
Married to my mom for 67 years, needless to say her passing left a void. During these last four years he would say he feels her presence and would say she is with us. Even he needed another dimension to survive. Rarely would he mention a God but this time, albeit with a qualifier, he did.
At other times my father would say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. He was well versed in Jewish ritual. And then something became clear to me. Even if we know there is something more, it is hard to acknowledge it. Often we have been hurt by life and scars don't go away easily. If we haven't become victims, we become pragmatists and realists and confident and competent. We were hurt once or more when we had our guard down and were defenseless. Hence we are weary and leary of giving up control.
Ritual, or protocal, or traditions act as a buffer and allude to what is above without direct contact. How often can we tolerate direct contact? Who can face the burning bush? There is nothing to hide behind. There is no shield for our hurts. Our long fought for integrity and detachment and objectivity is threatened. So ritual, along with other behavior, acts as a go between. In thinking about it, there really are in life many other go betweens, subtleties, and shields that act as a screen. Even little white lies shield us from what may be too blunt and cruel even if true.
As such I cannot judge it. It is part of this world reminding me with all its intricacy how perfect the whole design is. One can allude to God with a buffer, or occassionally make contact directly, or operate on a thousand other nuanced levels. It depends upon where you are at, no step necessarily better than another, all requiring just what is necessary for however short or long. In its own way for one moment ( despite how I felt inside and how I saw the world) I was reminded just how perfect the whole thing is.