For many of us,
the hunt for God never stops. We may deny God, curse God, and demand proof of
God's existence that we will never get...but the search continues, motivated by
a sense — often just the slimmest instinct — that only God's presence can
account for the holiness in our world.
Often I am asked, "Rabbi, how do I connect with God?" and I have long
struggled with my answer. The obvious place to begin is with personal or
communal prayer, but I have come to realize that, for many seekers, prayer is
too alien even to contemplate.
And so, I suggest: Begin with a new openness to the world around you.
Reawaken your capacity for wonderment. Make room for the sense of awe you felt
as a child when you first beheld the beauty and the mystery of the natural
world. These are Divine sparks. Allow yourself to experience them.
Turn next to the sacred texts of our tradition. They record how those who
came before us, faced with the same questions and doubts, found their way to God
and to faith. In carefully studying how others navigated this course, you can
find reassurance, inspiration, and guidance.
Remember, too, that God is not only a noun but a verb — not only a presence,
but a process. We may not know precisely what God is, but our tradition clearly
tells us what God does: heals the sick, clothes the naked, houses the homeless,
and pursues peace. We cannot be God because we are limited and imperfect, but we
can emulate God's behavior, and in this way bring God into our lives.
Consciousness of God, of course, is not necessary for ethical engagement, but
studies show that those who pursue justice with the express intent of testifying
to God's existence find greater satisfaction in their actions, and are less
likely to fall victim to exhaustion and despair.
Finally, I encourage you to experiment with religious rituals, including
those you may have discarded. Rituals help us to cultivate a sense of the sacred
within ourselves and in our midst. Rituals are also instruments of sacred
reenactment, a means for us to relive momentous encounters with God — the
Exodus, the revelation at Sinai — that shaped our people's religious lives.
Even if the search for God seems overwhelming, start somewhere. With God, our
lives have meaning and purpose. Without God, we are reduced to being no more
than a tiny speck in a vast universe.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie President, Union for Reform Judaism