I am in the middle of a fascinating new book by Eric Weiner entitled Man Seeks God (New York Times book review). I stumbled across Mr. Weiner as a result of a New York Times op-ed piece that he wrote in December.
He is a card carrying agnostic who, as a result of a health scare, was motivated to search for a God and thus a religion that he could embrace. The question that a nurse posed to Weiner that set him off on his quest was a simple, yet profound one, “Have you found your God?” Not have you found God, but have you found your God? The book is an account of Weiner’s attempt to find a God, so to speak.; and it started me to to thinking about many of us at this stage in life who are also searching for our God.
It seems to me that many baby boomers are searching for something, a place for ourselves, a sense of meaning or some place that can provide a foundation for us. That is why community is so important and relationships, especially as we age, become even more powerful. I think this desire for something non material is very present at this time of year. We just passed through the world series of materialism; the buying spree of Christmas and Hanukkah.
The new year dawns and we count up our possessions and realize that things do not equal meaning; that the emptiness is still there. In one of the chapters, Weiner is exploring living with some Franciscans in the South Bronx. A brother, commenting on this search for meaning says: “People think that things can fill the hole, but really it doesn’t. You just want more of that thing. And you can shove the entire ocean into this hole and it is still empty.”
So, here is a challenge for 2012. Why not accept the challenge of each of us trying to find his or her God. Really, not the God of our youth, but the one that speaks to us at this stage of our lives; as we deal with our own families, grandchildren, hopes and dreams, new challenges and our own mortality. An interesting challenge and one, if we allow it to develop, can lead us into some new and exciting possibilities.
May 2012 be a year of health and joy and peace!
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.