“Where do you find God?” my friend asked. “I find God in you,” I answered. Finding God in you isn’t like Finding Nemo. It is not a journey travelled or a viewing experience. It is a deep sharing of self. I believe that I can get a glimpse of God if someone shares their soul with me.
You see, I really want to know who you are. Not your name, not your status, but your essence. I want to meet your soul. The problem is, many of us don’t take the time to know ourselves well enough. If you don’t know your own self, you will hardly be able to share your soul – that is, your whole self – with someone else.
Here’s a tripping point of knowing who we are. Many of us identify only by what we do. I’m a lawyer, I’m a teacher, I’m a student, I’m a parent. Those are my doings, not my being. What if we each strip away our identity as a human doing and loosen up the constraints of who we are in relationship to others? What is the essential you? Do you need an introduction to You?
In Torah portion va’etchanan Moses is giving instruction to the people as they prepare to enter the land of Israel. One phrase among many makes a powerful impression upon me. “Only take heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently.” Before you can follow God’s laws and before you can move forward, you have got to pay attention to who you are. The essential human being that is you, remains vital and perhaps has been unheeded. If you haven’t regarded yourself then you haven’t cared for your soul.
Step one: identify what makes you “you”. Here’s an exercise, to figure you out – see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. Step two: be conscientious about your soul. That means giving yourself the time to just be you without distractions; take long walks, meditate or keep a diary.
In the Jewish calendar the seven weeks preceding Rosh Hashanah, is a time for self-discovery. We re-ignite the engine of our internal processes in a process of teshuvah, returning to our core selves. Teshuvah, which we typically identify as repentance, is easily experienced as an adjustment of focus. The process demands a stripping away of the nonessential identities that cloud our inward vision. If we only examine ourselves by dint of our deeds, we can’t improve. First you have to figure out who you are and what you have to offer. Re-discovering yourself will give recognition to what God placed in you that is your essential self.
Maybe you’d like a partner in this process – a friend, a rabbi, or a spouse. This process of turning, will be more productive with someone to be a mirror or guide. Let someone else really get to know you, as you endeavor to heed yourself and tend to your soul. Relationships will be so much richer if you bring forward the essential you and strip away the roles you play and the accomplishments you’ve achieved.
You see, I really want to get to know you, because I believe that you are a portal to finding God. Aren’t you now curious to get to know yourself better?
R’ Evan Krame