Why are we here? - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Why are we here?

June 2nd, 2017 development
Why are we here?

By Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

Certain times in our lives we gather in the church, synagogue, or mosque. Not because we have all of a sudden received an epiphany, but rather because we have been groomed to understand the awesomeness of the connection that is offered by the experience.

The prayers we say are designed to segue us into a feeling of contrition and forgiveness. We mouth words and then expect some miracle to occur that will absolve us of all that is considered wrong in our dealings with one another and our understanding of our connection with God, whose demands seem to indicate indescribable tales of sacrifice.

So we listen to the prayers. We mumble an Amen and then distance ourselves from the experience because it is too gruesome to fathom. We do it time and again, and we feel remarkably good after the encounter, particularly after a significant happening in our lives.

Strange? We do this in the same setting. Not so strange! I remember reading somewhere an essay that dealt with houses of worship and their significance in our lives. It mentioned the fact that we pray together with our co-religionists and in doing so become the collective conscience of all. There is a connection to the past because generations that have preceded us did the very same thing. There is a feeling of future because we know that the generations that will follow will also do the very same thing.

Yet there is still a magical feeling being here. There is something enchanting about mouthing words, or singing hymns we don’t even know the meaning of but remember hearing our parents or grandparents repeating. It is really indescribable.

Every time we encounter something of significance in our lives, we make our way to the one place that reminds us that we are all God’s children and the sacrifices we continue to make enable us to sound this declaration because it emanates from a feeling of comfort. Where else can we make these pronouncements? Where else can we achieve this feeling of wholeness and completion?

So the question remains, why do we still navigate to a place of remembrance? The answer is not so remote. We go because that is where we commemorate birth and death, where we express our sorrow and delight as we continue our journey through life. God may not be so distant after all.

We say or sing the prayers because we know that only through this exercise can we truly understand everything there is to fulfillment. We speak to God because much of what we need and want can be accomplished with perseverance and determination. We understood a long time ago that prayers alone are not enough. Seeing God gives no more credence to the miracles of everyday living anymore than not seeing God.

Why do we wander to these places? Primarily, because we still need to understand that we are not exclusive but inclusive. Also, because we need to remind ourselves that we should take one day at a time. And because each encounter gives us the ability to regroup and recharge our batteries.

Perhaps we go because we have to remember that we are not alone in this world. We need each other. We do not have to like each other but we do have to respect each other and care for each other.

The blessings of life are our beginnings. We witness new life and new people have entered our lives. All this indicates a strong feeling of faith. Perhaps some are not considered as religious as others, but religious fervor is not measured by adherence, but rather by the measure of our hearts.

As all faiths teach us – “the blessing I give to each of you, the newest among us and the ones just beginning their lives – is that you should go from strength to strength, so that your God will continue to bless you with all the gifts life has to offer.”

Try it! Visit a house of worship!  Remember, as God has taught: “MY House is a House of prayer for all people.” Not just for some. In these trying times, perhaps turning to God will not only give us answers, but also teach us the value of life.