When I was really sick and my son was in Sunday School and later Hebrew School, I realized how much I dislike organized religion. Or maybe it just was the people at our temple. The two families with whom we carpooled kicked us out of the carpool because they said I drove too fast.The truth was that they drove too slowly. In fact, I'm a terrific driver and I haven't had a ticket or an accident since I was a teenager (and perhaps had one of each).
I believe they chose not to carpool with us because of my illness. It hurt my feelings, made me angry, and was truly a hardship. Once we no longer had a carpool, it meant that I had to drive my son on Wednesdays and Sundays (although my husband helped out when I wasn't feeling well).
What bothered me most was that here we were, participating in religious activities, reciting prayers about "loving our neighbors," and their behavior toward me was as uncharitable as any I've experienced.
Once my son was finished with Sunday school, I quit the temple and wrote a letter to the executive director explaining why. By this time, the rabbi I liked so well had retired. From then on, I only attended temple with my mother, who was still a member. I didn't enjoy it although I liked being with her.
A few years ago, when mom became less mobile, I began celebrating the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) with my mother in her home. I would bring the booklets we'd used in the services and we would recite prayers together. We would alternate reading the rabbi's part. It was better than any of the services I'd ever attended.
Last night, I went to Casa del Mar to visit my mother and I brought the Rosh Hashanah booklet. She wasn't feeling well so once I'd gotten her in bed, I read an abbreviated service aloud to her. I read all the parts and she lay there with her eyes closed. I wasn't sure whether she was asleep or awake but I felt that my voice, and the prayers she's known for some many years, would be comforting.
While I no longer consider myself a religious person, spirituality is very important to me. As I sat reading the prayers, I felt a peacefulness and calm. I have dear friends (whom I met through this blog) who find comfort and solace in their religion. Last night, I understood why.