Spring is Sprung and the holidays are upon us. Whether you honor Passover or Easter I wish you the best of everything from the bottom of my heart. In truth I feel we are more alike than we are different and it is at this time of year that I hope we look for the sameness we have with each other and with our maker.
When I first moved to New York City I was invited to my first Seder. Before that time I had only read about this ritual or seen it referenced in a few theatrical pieces, so I was very excited. I was also warned by everyone who had all ready had the experience to fast most of the day because there would be SO MUCH food I would need to save room.
We took the subway all the way out past Coney Island to the home of our friend's 93 year old grandmother who was preparing our feast. As soon as we got there, the tiny little old lady's face lit up with love when her eyes fell on my face. Something about me made her think I was her dear departed sister and she pulled me down to embrace her tiny frame. She was barely 4 feet, 11 inches tall, and she kissed one of my cheeks and then the other saying "Sister I miss you, Sister I miss you," over and over again.
I quickly learned that we would all be called by our Hebrew names and that Linda in Hebrew is Leia. Just like that I became a Princess in the Star Wars series. My date, on the other hand, Steve, an Englishman, was quite disheartened to find that he would be known for the evening as Shlomo.
The aroma of chicken filled the air and I was so curious to find out what our promised multiple courses would include. As we sat down to the table with the books that told the stories of the famines and plagues that had led the Jewish people, God's chosen people, on the long and winding path that had led to this night, our hosts began to skip ahead many pages at a time to get to certain parts of the books. "Otherwise," they explained, "we'll be here all night."
My "new sister" leaned into my face and began to question my knowledge of the Torah, the religious book of the Jewish faith. Much to my surprise I was coming up with all of the correct answers. Having been raised a "good Southern Baptist" our Sunday School teacher had drilled us tirelessly on the stories of the Old Testament, making sure that we commited large portions of it to memory. Every time I got an answer right the sweet little old lady clapped with glee and she'd say, "You a good girl Leia-you very good girl." It turns out that the Torah is comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament in our Bible.
My pride of knowledge was soon being over powered by my growing hunger so you can imagine my dismay when we found out that the little lady had been cooking all day to produce only some chicken broth from boullion cubes and some dry matzoh crackers - and oh yes, the all important bitter herbs. Poor thing - she had become a little confused (come on she WAS 93 years old) and had "forgotten" to make anything else.
On my way home that night from my first and only Seder so far, I had hunger gnawing in my belly but my heart was full of wonder at this miraculous adventure we call life and how much love the Lord had provided for all of us, no matter what our belief system. Rather than being "Oh thee of little faith" the truth was more likely "Oh we of many faiths" and for me there is great comfort in that fact. After all if God IS infinity, there has to be enough to go around for all of us.