Sometimes, spirituality is about singing soulful songs and connecting over shared values and commonality of ideas. Like Friday night at camp. Like Passover Seder at your grandparents’. Like wiping away your happy tears at a chuppah.
But sometimes, spirituality is about squelching the song and ceding the need to share commonality. Like when your sister or son didn’t show up at the Seder this year, and you’re resentful and lonely and mad at her, and at yourself for being mad.
Sometimes spirituality is about watching your children follow in your prescribed path and the paths of your parents and theirs before them. Like walking them down the aisle to the chuppah just beyond. Like cheering them on through college. Like smiling as you watch them adulting. Like welcoming your Jewish grandchildren to the world.
But sometimes spirituality is about loving them so much, that the love is stronger than the bruised sores you’ve gotten from the trampling of those familiar paths, and from the walking of new ones that have not been walked before. Maybe no path is being walked at all, because the journey has stagnated and shuddered to a stop, and no one knows why. Like when they marry out. Like when they don’t want to bring your grandchildren into the world, Jewish or otherwise, because this world is such a painful place, and why bring more humans into it? Like when they drop out of school, or life, or both, because it is all too overwhelming.
Sometimes spirituality is shareable, with pictures and videos and communal wishes. Like the smiling photos on Facebook. Like the framed diplomas. Like the graduation parties and engagement parties and baby showers and anniversaries. Like siddur parties and Torah parties and birthday parties.
But sometimes spirituality is in the hidden moments, the private thoughts, the battles of joy over despair, the fight for faith over folly, in the dark webbed crevices where nobody will see. Like the sobs you stifle at night where no one can see, desperately trying to turn them into prayer. Like the tears you wipe away at a chuppah that masquerade as happy tears, but are really tears of despair, of yearning, of longing for what isn’t. Like the parties and bar and bat mitzvahs you don’t go to, because it’s too much pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t. Like the pictures that say a thousand words, but conceal two thousand.
Sometimes spirituality is about reaching a milestone, a finish line, a joyous event attended by all. Like “Mazel tov! Thank you for coming! Yes, didn’t he do a great job?” and “Yes, I got the job! Thank you! I’ll be moving next month! So excited!”
But sometimes spirituality is about holding your head up high when there’s no finish line in sight and reminding yourself that the Master of Spirituality walks with you and holds your hand and loves you through it all.
And you will keep going, and you will keep walking, and finish lines are really just new starting lines. And the smiling happy faces you see might just be the same ones that will later cry into their pillows. And the spirituality, then, is that triumph over despair, that victory of dogged optimism even when it seems the height of foolishness.
The spirituality is everywhere you think, but even more so, everywhere you didn’t think. It’s waiting, in the unsung songs, and in the unwritten tributes. The spirituality is in you. And it’s been there all along, and it’s going where you go.