Raising kids in two religious traditions can be quite challenging. Honoring both parents, making the grandparents happy, trying to fit it all into an already busy schedule can seem daunting. With all the challenges, many families just give up on the tradition and give in to the desire to not do anything. But in the end, wrestling to redefine what these rituals mean to our kids will benefit everyone. When we learn how to balance these different aspects of our lives, it models navigating complex situations to our children. The hassle is totally worth it.
Make the time to walk with your kid on their faith journey.
Do you take time to remember the people you loved who have died? American Christians often get lost in our own grief–or worse do not know how to grieve well. The economic demands of capitalism and customs of limited time off for bereavement get in the way of remembering. Our faith suggests that a Christian burial is all that is required. We do not have rituals around remembering the dead other than the few days leading up to and including the funeral–and these days, many are choosing not to have a funeral at all. Occasionally, people will choose to honor their loved one year after they have died by spreading their ashes or gathering for a meal.
In Hindu Iyengar traditions, the rituals around remembering those who have died, especially our parents are quite specific.
Me: "Honey, why don't we renew our wedding vows..."
Him: "Why, have they expired?"
Keeping it fresh–still cultures collide.
We celebrated 2 weddings in 2 religions on 2 continents over 2 months over 25 years ago. How do we keep our relationship fresh while respecting and celebrating our different cultures? It isn’t easy. Americans want to go out to dinner and have grand experiences. Indians want to go to temple and receive the blessings of our elders and wear traditional clothes. Americans want to celebrate with a champagne toast. Indians want to celebrate by sharing sweets with family and friends. Like every year of our lives together we negotiated our own blended way of celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
These days my garden is blooming with color-reds, pinks, yellows, and especially purples. These warm days of June bring such bountiful beauty I can sit in my rose garden for hours contemplating the mystery of God’s creation around me. The tomatoes have not yet formed. The eggplants and peppers are hopeful flowers blossoming on young plants in delightfully cool mornings awaiting the buzz of bees to bear their fruit in fall. The basil is reaching upwards toward the sun, not yet ready for my Friday pizzas. It is here with the sun on my face, sitting at my garden table, with the breeze dancing among leaves of the cottonwood trees that I feel at peace, a sense of ONENESS with God and the world. This is sacred Sabbath time.Continue reading “My Blooming Garden (Part 2): The Fragrance of God”→
These past two weeks I have been battling bronchitis.
One morning when I was very sick I woke up with no voice. I had but a whisper to talk, and that too was strained. The morning routine with our 13 year old and 11 year old is an intense schedule. They each have to move through showers, breakfast, backpacks, packed lunches, and chores all in the space of 1 hour. The last 10 minutes are especially rushed with me yelling, “don’t forget your lunch!” and “hurry up you’ll miss the bus!” or “practice piano before breakfast.” Suddenly with no voice and no energy the “mom voice” did not exist and my children were on their own. Fortunately they made it to school on time with all their stuff in tow.
The urgency of needing my voice back was compounded by the fact I had to teach a class on the book of Nehemiah that evening. I was trying to imagine teaching the class without talking much. It wasn’t going to work.I realized that without my voice, I had no profession. No voice meant no ministry.
For a brief moment I realized how dependent I was on my voice. Without a voice pastors cannot provide counseling, we cannot teach, we certainly cannot preach. Our work is based on the art of communication and building relationships.
Fortunately, my friend Swati came by and took me to the clinic where they gave me a breathing treatment and diagnosed me with bronchitis. Within 5 minutes my voice returned. I had thought that my voice was gone, but what was actually gone was my breath.
In Hebrew the word for “breath” ruah is the same word for “Spirit” (to learn more click here). It is the Spirit of God who dwells within us that is found within our own breath. We breathe in the breath of life and the Spirit of our Creator with each breath. When our breath leaves us at the time of death, then we say that our Spirit is gone. While I still could breathe, I had not the strength to speak. My voice was weak because the breath flowing through me was not strong enough to speak. My air pathways were constricted—too tight for the ruah to flow. Thus, my spiritual power as I understood it was certainly weakened.
As we think more about going green, buying locally, healthy living, and eating our veggies, now is the time to veggie up your Thanksgiving.
I grew up with the traditional turkey and fixin’s on Thanksgiving. When I became vegetarian over 17 years ago, Thanksgiving became a very difficult holiday. People were reluctant to join us for us for the holiday because we would not have turkey on the table, and others were timid about inviting us because so many of their traditional recipes were not vegetarian. So over the years I have adapted all the traditional recipes to be vegetarian and we have created our own Thanksgiving rituals.
Compassion is at the heart of Christian and Buddhist teachings, and yet compassion is one of the most challenging spiritual practices to develop. As we have entered our 40’s the reality of our aging parents is upon us. For six months of the year my father-in-law travels from India to live here in the United States—three months at our home and three months at his youngest son’s home. His routine, customs, and eating habits are very different than ours, but normally we coexist fairly well. This year during his visit he began to experience pain in his mouth. What would have been perhaps a routine visit for most Americans turned into a summer long project for “Appa’s smile”.