Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Nancys

Not much going on here in paradise. We had a few clouds today but nothing more. But it’s been so hot for so long that just clouds were an occasion to celebrate. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the final re-writing and editing of my book and not much thinking what to say for my usual Wednesday offering. Well, actually, I couldn’t get to work on the book until I cleared off my desk. So I spent the first part of the day sifting through the stack of papers until sifting wasn’t working fast enough and I went to the “box it up and deal with it later” tactic. This technique is scary when I employ it because I always run the risk that I won’t go back and actually look inside the box ever again.

Here’s a thought I’ve had bumping around inside my brain for a while. I’m afraid you’re only getting a half-baked idea. I didn’t have enough time to fully bake it once I got all my papers boxed up.

For years there were a couple of ladies who ran a restaurant and bakery in downtown Winnsboro. They were both named Barbara. Since they were so active in the community while working side by side at the bakery, they became interchangeable in everyone’s mind and they were referred to as simply, “The Barbaras.”

I have more than one friend named Nancy. But none are as special as two. And even though they have never met each other, nor do they really have anything in common, I am inclined sometimes to think of them as “the Nancys.” I gain something spiritual from each of them almost every time I talk to either of them.

Here’s the funny thing: not only do they not really have anything in common except for my friendship, they are about as different from each other as night and day. One is a progressive, open-minded free spirit who is always looking for new ideas and new ways to worship God. She’s my resource for all things new and has brought many new ideas to me like “post-modern” and “emergent.”

The other Nancy is a conservative Jew who keeps a kosher kitchen. She does not mix meat and dairy to the extent that she won’t order a cheese enchilada unless they promise to not put chili on it. Not only is she bonded to one of the oldest religions on earth; she is intent on keeping it unchanged. Tradition runs in her veins.

Nancy1 explores Native American spiritual practices and stories and never met a new religion she wasn’t interested in or, at least, interested in knowing more about. Nancy2 sent me a video a few weeks ago of her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. I had to miss it because I was in Mississippi. In the video the Rabbi speaks of Moses and Aaron in such a familiar way that it’s almost like he’s talking about a couple of dear uncles.

Nancy1 is quiet and shy to the point of hiding sometimes. She is more comfortable in the background. Nancy2 is outgoing and assertive. She teaches a class at the community college and relishes the spotlight.

While I worship God in the same sanctuary every Sunday with Nancy1, Nancy2 has hosted me at more than one Shabbat meal at her house and we enjoy sharing the same God on those evenings. It’s a very spiritual experience.

I love them both equally and dearly. How can this be? Doesn’t one have to be wrong and one right?

I still remember with great embarrassment the day a group of our friends that included two Presbyterians, a Lutheran and an Episcopalian sat around lunch trying to figure out how or even if Nancy2 would get into the heaven we Christians anticipated. And the horrible thing about it was that we actually did this right in front of her. In our attempt to reconcile our Christianity to our friend’s different religion, we ended up sounding like we were back in Junior High School.

But Nancy2 just sat there totally unflustered. She couldn’t have cared less what we thought. She had enough confidence in her beliefs that whatever we believed had no effect on her life. It was a non-issue to her. My beliefs didn’t apply to her life any more than I would hesitate to eat pork.

That’s the funny thing about beliefs. They are beliefs, not facts. None of us know whether we have the right answer.

That’s why it’s called Faith. We just really don’t know, do we?

I could spend more time thinking this through but I’ve run into life’s busyness and have to close. Maybe someday I can ponder this idea more. I’ll make a note and put it in the box.

I wish it would rain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jane, this is very poignant and hits home for me so well. With my grandson being raised Jewish (and me a Prebyterian Grandmother) I have often pondered the thought of heaven where he will be concerned. I can rest easy now, because you have put the thought to rest FOR me. Faith is what really matters.....Thank you for shedding this light!!
VB