We went to church at Nicole’s school a few weeks ago around Easter and while it was very enjoyable and moving, what the priest talked about struck me. He talked about Easter and the resurrection, and focused on death and dying and grieving. The priest began his sermon off by saying to a young man in the first row (who did not actually lose a family member), “Congratulations on your mother’s death.” He said it in almost a happy jovial manner. It really struck us all. He elaborated on it and said that “she is in a better place”, she is with the Holy One, she is sitting next to Jesus, in a very peaceful and heavenly place. “You should be happy where she is.” He went on to give a very nice sermon about faith in the afterlife, about the meaning of Easter and the resurrection, and about grieving. What he said was very interesting and we all listened attentively.
I watched the others who were in church with us that day. They nodded their heads in agreement. They smiled and listened attentively. They really were engaged. I could tell from the looks on their faces, the gleam in their eyes, the nodding of their heads that they found peace in what was being said, and they truly believed.
Now, the fact that I am Jewish, I did not understand some of what he said, and some of it was outside of my faith and my belief system. But nevertheless I found comfort in it. Not as much in the exact words he was saying, but in the belief and faith from the others in the church. I know I wrote about this before, and what he said really hit home. He talked about faith and belief and what keeps up spiritually on the right track.
I go to temple every Friday night to say Kaddish for Andrew. Not because I have to, but because I need to. I really need to. I need to be in a religious place, I need to be around other believers, I need to look at the stained glass, look at the arc containing the Torahs, read out of the prayer book, and hear what the rabbi has to talk about. I need to listen to others doven, and be engulfed in their belief. And I know Andrew is there, along with my father. Not because I see them, or hear them, but because I believe they are there with me when I pray. And I need to feel that to be at peace.
When people talk to me about Andrew and they tell me he is with Jesus, or the Heavenly Father, or with someone specific in Heaven, I smile. I might not agree with them on a religious basis, but when someone believes what they say, and they say it with true feeling and with honorable intent, then what they say is genuine and good; regardless of what the religion is that the words come from. And that brings me peace and happiness.
You have to have faith in something. You have to believe in something. Hey, we may all be wrong. There might be a fat guy up there named Chuck who is running the show and laughing his ass off right now how wrong we all are. But that does not matter. When we are here, we have faith that there is something there on the other side, and it is that faith that gets us through trying times, hard times, and motivates us through our lives. It is this faith that we fall back on when we need it, it is this faith that makes us take the next step when our feet just won’t move. And it is this faith that we embrace when we celebrate something.
Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe in something on the other side? Is there actually something there, or loved ones who will meet us when we cross over? Does Saint Peter guard the pearly gates or are we written into the book of life at Yom Kippour? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone really knows. But we all believe there is something – and that is called faith.
I don’t know where Andrew is, or his soul, or what he is now, or who he is. But I know he is at peace and he is happy. And that lets me put one foot in front of the other every day.