My partner and I grew up celebrating and practicing different faith traditions. She is Jewish. I am Christian. Gratefully so, when I told my Mama that Maya is Jewish, she instantly chuckled with unexpected delight. “Now we got someone Jewish to add to our already diverse clan!” with a big, teethy grin stretched across her face.
One thing I cherish about my relationship with Maya is our enthusiasm to participate in one another’s faith traditions. Now, neither of us are regular temple or church goers, nor do we practice every tradition our respective affiliations practice. However, in our own little ways, we honor our respective faiths due to the uplifting connections, meaningful gatherings, and good times they bring to our lives.
To share a few things we do: We have apples and honey during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Maya puts up with the Christmas chaos every year with my family, participating in my siblings’ Secret Santa gift exchange. We have Hamsa decorations scattered throughout our bedroom walls to bring us happiness, luck, good health, and fortune. Maya watches me as I attempt to sign the hymns bellowed through the organs at my family’s church. I commemorate Yom Kippur and Passover with her family if we can squeeze it into our schedules. Currently, we are discussing what traditions we’d like to incorporate in our upcoming wedding (we recently got engaged!). Meanwhile, we also seek to try out new things or adopt practices in our own creative ways to honor and celebrate our families and where we came from.
A little over a month ago, I was sitting on the bedroom floor, sorting through Maya’s childhood photos when I impulsively requested that we do something for Lent. For those of you unfamiliar with Lent, it is a practice developed by the Christian church with which its people devote to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of when Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Typically, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019) to Holy Saturday (April 20, 2019). This includes 40 week days and Saturdays.
So what did we decide to do for Lent, for 40 Days? We went “Marie Kondo” on our “stuff”. We decided we wanted to create space for serenity and inspiration while being rid of unnecessary clutter. Each day of Lent, we looked for an item we each owned and asked ourselves any of the following:
“Does this give me a spark of joy?”
“When was the last time I used this?”
“Will I use it soon?”
“Who else might enjoy it more than me?”
Just like that, day after day, our collection box grew and grew before it overflowed with 80 items on the last day of Lent. The last part we have to do yet is go through this collection box and see if we missed anything. Otherwise, we will sort through these items to see what can be given away and what can be donated.
Since having done this for Lent, I sense freshness in our personal spaces, drawers, and shelves. We minimized “stuff” in our lives. Meanwhile, we added tranquility and space to enjoy one another more.
p.s. Right after Lent, we dove right into having no leavened bread for 7 days as is practiced by the Jewish faith tradition. We’ve been having a lot of matzah lately!