A creed of escapism

The Washington Post recently published a fascinating article about the growing trend in Passover retreats where families could go to commemorate the ritual-filled celebration absent the onerous amount of cooking and cleaning that Passover usually entails. According to the article, observant families can go anywhere from cruise ships to Amish country to convenient locations near Sea World and find lodgings that have been prepared for the Jewish holiday.

 

In a world where fewer and fewer people incorporate organized religion into their daily lives–regardless of whether it’s as a result of questions they have about their faith or simply not making the time –I often hear people bemoaning the degradation of society and the widespread loss of integrity that surrounds them. None of this is news to you, I know.

 

But the question of religious escape as an effective tactic to instill appreciation of the sacred is one worth considering. Although educated exclusively in a parochial school setting through high school, I haven’t attended church on a regular basis in years. Would an Easter getaway bring me closer to God? If faced with the stressful prospect of having to devote a day attending services– as nice as the hymns and psalms and an occasional sermon may be–followed by preparing a large meal, I might easily question how this custom enhanced my spiritual relationship. And yet, the other side presents its own intrigue: if I am so far removed from my faith that I can’t be bothered with periodic observations, why observe at all? Tradition? To pretend I abide by an organized religion? Because I don’t want to break from a culturally approved of practice?

 

Churches and synagogues report an ongoing dwindling of regular worshippers; newspapers are filled with reports of scandal and betrayal by religious leaders; people question and grow weary of much of the stridency that is encased in the “messages of faith” that are put forward. And yet, it is equally observable that society is growing increasingly coarse. Girls are presented with hyper sexualized images at a younger and younger age. Examples of cheating or other unfair tactics are ignored or laughed off, no longer used as an example of what not to do. The widespread distress about this trend is real and valid. Where do we turn for guidance?

 

Far from the days of Little House on the Prairie, places of worship no longer provide the main opportunity for social interaction—most of these extra-religious incentives to attend have fallen by the wayside, despite the best efforts of highly committed congregants. Further, since I believe I have a personal relationship with God, I can worship on my own time and in my own, casual way, if I remember to do so at all.

 

So, it is in this light that while I was initially quick to disapprove of the getaways the Post described, I concluded that they are a perfectly acceptable approach. Sure, the whole exercise could be bogus, but that applies to just about any example of observation; you can never tell what’s in a person’s heart. Years ago, I was escorted  to church so I could sit in someone’s “family pew,” but was flabbergasted when they whispered to me they had no belief in God, despite decades as a parishioner.

 

Life requires effort. Faith requires effort. Relationships, too. People are desperate for the guidance. As far as I’m concerned, whatever can get us into an attentive frame of mind–even just for the occasional weekend–where we’re truly thinking about how to integrate integrity, patience, and generosity of spirit into our daily lives is a good place to start. Sign me up.Image

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One Response to “A creed of escapism”

  1. helenga Says:

    Great post! (I have a girlfriend who is bogged down with all the preparations for Passover and I’m guessing she would love to be at Sea World celebrating instead!) I especially love the final paragraph. We definitely need more opportunities to tune into our spirituality however we define it.

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