This I Believe

Allison - Medfield, Massachusetts
Entered on January 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in sun showers. I believe in heat lightning, horses, and the beauty of a sleeping child. I believe that G-d is present in all of them, and that He is also in questions.

I was raised as a Jew by my Catholic father and Jewish mother, which provided a lot of material for me to question as a kid. Curiosity bubbled about what Dad believed and why I did not share these beliefs. As I grew older more complicated queries arose. How could I best define my Jewish identity in an interfaith household? How could I bring that identity out into the real world? And what exactly was my identity, anyway?

Fortunately, there were many people willing to help me along the way. However, try as they might, no one ever provided a complete answer. Resolution of one mystery only led to another question, a process that continued in a never ending cycle. These inquiries plagued me for many years. Fear that a final answer would never be found made the idea of continual trying seem hopeless. Yet, it was the trying itself that really mattered.

Through my searching and questioning I discovered that identity is formed not by the answers found but by the questions asked. Little children often ask “who” or “where” or “what” is G-d? G-d is in those very questions, and in the dialogue they provoke. Sometimes it can be frustrating when the answers to these questions are not immediately apparent.

Yet just asking leads to meaningful exchange of ideas. My questions are not indicative of doubt, at least not any more. Rather, they are demonstrative of my desire to connect with G-d. Challenging daily rituals brings them into my life in a way that goes beyond rote performance of an obligation. I may never know exactly why G-d wants the Jewish people to follow the laws of Kashrut (Jewish Dietary laws). However, G-d sits down to dinner with me every time the subject is discussed. Perhaps there is no answer about Kashrut, but in the course of the conversation I am sure to discover a new idea. Talking about practices does not necessarily yield an answer, yet somehow the conversation always seems to make rituals more relevant.

Over the years I have come to realize that G-d is not an old man in the sky, convenient as this belief may be. He is not to be found in storybooks or fairy tales. Far more fantastic insights are realized when a family discusses religion and a child learns something new. Events such as sun showers and heat lightning, which elicit wonder, also lead to questions about the wondrous ways in which G-d works. There may be fifteen different answers and no one may ever know which is the true, but G-d is not in the answers. No, for me G-d is found in the questions.