Last night I attended a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat service at my synagogue. It was led by a group of teens and they were amazing. I've never see that many teenagers smiling at once! They were lit up with joy in praise. It was truly beautiful. I kept thinking one word: Home. For the first time in my life, with this congration I have found a place of loving kindness, acceptance and joy.
This morning, I learned of the death of a woman in my home group to cancer. A woman I didn't know well, but who always inspired me with her light, love, and hope. Her husband, who is also in the program, attended the meeting despite having just said good-bye to his wife hours before. As he put it, 'At a time like this you want to be with family, and this is my family. She would have wanted me to come.' I thought of my own loved ones. Would I be at a meeting on the day of their loss? I like to think I would. When I first got sober, I had an out: I thought that if I ever lost either of my children that would be my excuse to drink myself to death. Later, I came to understand that to drink again over their death would be to dishonor their memory. They would not want me to give up my life and my sobriety because of them.
At my table this morning the topic was faith. People talked about how their Higher Power saved their lives, how He( or She, or It) kept them safe through their drinking. Personally, I can't believe that God has saved me. To summarize something that Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winning laureate and Holocaust survivor has said; I can't believe that God save me, because to believe that would be to hold my life as more worth of saving than the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. My life is no more worthy than theirs or any others.
They also talked about the line from Acceptance: "Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake", and how having faith that things happen for a reason carries them through. Again, I can't believe that God wants everything that happens to happen. To reconcile this with the loving God that I do believe in I turn to free will. God did not kill those 6 million Jews, Nazi's did. Nazi's - humans - who chose very, very wrong. I think God mourned their choices, the loss of their souls to such depravity and evil just as he mourned the massacre of the Jewish people.
So where am I going with all this? The loss of any life is a terrible thing. It can drag us down, or it can inspire us to lift ourselves up. This morning, I mourned along with a man honoring his wife and her life in the best way he could. Last night I praised God with joy along with a people who survived one of the most atrocious acts of mankind in history. In both places, I found joy, gratitude, and love. Perhaps it is because we have seen the darkest of the dark that recovering alcoholics and Jews are capable of such great light. Perhaps it is because we have faith. Whatever the reason, I am so grateful to have all of these people in my life.