Good Friday: Taize in Ireland

The lights were low. Candles flickered around the perimeter of the sanctuary. Soothing music ran like a river of a background.

Nineteen years ago today, I was in Dublin, Ireland, celebrating Easter with my dear friend Catherine and her family. We went to a taize service at her church, and I subsequently wrote an article about the similarities this Jewish girl from the Midwest found in an Irish Catholic church on Good Friday.

Music. Prayerful silence. Reflection. Community gathering.

While I had feared that Easter observance would be fire and brimstone and gruesome images of brutal crucifixion, I found it to be uplifting, peaceful and all about the possibility for rebirth.

The Passover holiday is ongoing this week. We’ve left the bondage of slavery and are wending our way through an unleavened menu toward redemption. Toward freedom.

Jesus was set free in a way at this time. The Jews went free to the promised land. Free to take on the laws of a people. Free to form a community.

The idea of rising above the earthly toward aspirations high and mighty surrounds this holy week. People reflect, rejoice, share food, share company. We come together to elevate our days on this planet.

What my children love about Passover is the fun we had at our seder, the opportunity to be with their cousins at their dad’s. In Ireland, I was welcomed into the midst of my friend’s family as if it were my own; the holiday was an opportunity to expand my definition of family and of meaning and see the world through a new lens.

That seems like so long ago. I was 22 and traveling the world to expand my own horizons.  I was single and unburdened, at a point in life of taking chances.

So many of us lose that as we gain responsibility, structure, family. But why should we? If we don’t take risks, we don’t risk true happiness, true growth, true mind-blowing enlightenment.

A year ago around this time I was in Bali. Another adventurous journey to see how people find meaning. There, I walked among monkeys and sat in a day of silence for the holiday of Nyepi

When it’s not your holiday, when you’re an observer in another person’s land, you can appreciate all of the traditions and trademarks of a people.

How boring it would be to sit still in my own little definition of the world. To never set foot on foreign soil. To never meet another person whose life is so very different from mine but realize that the lines creasing our palms are exactly the same.

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