Cultural traveler

by tamarjacobson

Quote of the day


I found this at Danny Miller's blog and it fits perfectly into my, I-don't-belong-anywhere neurosis. Indeed, I laughed out loud when I saw it. A hearty, straight from the gut, recognizing myself type of laugh. Don't you love those kinds of recognitions? Being married into a family that is not Jewish is a blessing for me. That way I can participate in Christmas as if I belong. Growing up in Rhodesia where the dominant white culture was Christian, I was always longing to participate in Christmas, but always felt left out. It was the perfect feed in and confirmation for my already developing childhood feeling of not belonging anywhere. But nowadays I seem to flow in and out of different cultures with ease, and more than that, I enjoy the participation – at times feeling as if I truly belong, and at others as an outsider looking in. Both are comfortable and enjoyable feelings for me now. Indeed, I have become a cultural traveler, and rejoice in the freedom it brings me: the freedom to choose for myself.

Most of religion is about rituals and traditions. Some are worthy just because they encourage generosity of spirit and compassion for all humankind. Others are barbaric and nonsensical. It has always been important for me to understand them and acquaint myself with their meanings, because it was a way for me to learn about the similarities of people through their differences: differences of expressing the same kinds of emotions, beliefs or values.

I seek out the kernels of kindness and compassion, giving and forgiveness in any of the religious rituals and celebrate them with glee. 


Whenever I look at this old photograph of myself as a child, I recognize the inherent hope and joy we are all born with, before the harshness of life manipulated us to believe in and expect disappointment – sucked out the joy and replaced it with bitterness and mistrust, hopelessness and sorrow. As I become older, I seek out joyousness in celebrations.  I keep my inner eye focused on the child-like joy in those mischievous eyes of the young child in my photograph, and work to regain my birth right of joyous happiness and playfulness.

Mother Teresa had some excellent quotes about some of this:

  • Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
  • If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. 
  • Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

So, bring it all on! Gentle twinkling trees adorned with ornaments, each one holding a memory, a symbol of what has gone before, telling the family story over and over again, lighting candles on a wintry eve – or any festival of light that symbolizes the miracle of life, rebirth and redemption. I will participate and rejoice in it all, or even in just sitting silently watching the snow fall on the old oak tree by my window as birds rush to the feeder.