Helping to find God in even the darkest hours
By Marie Betcher - Special to the American-Statesman
Those of us that have a belief in God and God’s power to heal hearts and souls are many. Whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu (and the many other religious sects), we find an inner strength at times of need. At the darkest times of need.
I am blessed to serve as the rabbi and cantor of a Union of Reform Judaism congregation in Texas, the only one in Williamson County. We have many interfaith couples and families. We partner with the wonderful Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church. We hold our New Year’s Tashlich Service at Hill Country Bible. We donate food and clothing to the Church of the Nazarene. I am invited each year to participate on an interfaith panel at Vista Ridge High School consisting of Christian clergy, an imam and me. Students ask questions and glean information about how we are more alike than different.
My heart lights up when I see my congregation interact and work with our neighbors from all faith communities whether it be our blessing of animals or an annual Christmas toy drive. We live and worship in a community where there are many religions, but we are all working toward the same goal — as if we are all floating down a river to the same end. We all realize we have to work together in order to reach that end.
Serving as a chaplain for the Cedar Park police and fire departments can at times be a daunting task. There are seven of us and all are Christian with the exception of me. We have found such a wonderful loving and warm relationship together, sharing our faith, stories and supporting one another.
I have found that when I go on a call to a death notice or suicide, the fact that my uniform has stars of David on the collar does not bother people. When I am with someone in such a dark time, they do not notice what faith I follow. They notice that I follow one. We pray to the same God for help and strength. When I hold them and cry with them, they care not what the name of my religion is, but they do care that I bring to them the peace and love only God can give.
You see, it is more often than not when we focus on our journey together and remind ourselves that there is an end to that river, we will not dwell on things that can impede our process. Being a rabbi, a cantor and a chaplain shows me daily that the ties that bind us together are more similar that not.
There is a wonderful new organization called the police chaplain project, headed by Phillip LeConte, uniting chaplains all over the country. No matter what religion, we are all working together to help those in their most dire times of need.
When a human soul cries out, the person who is there to bring God into the moment is forever connected to the one who is suffering in agony. I am so blessed that my colleagues, whether clergy or chaplains are all serving those in need, and many times crossing imaginary lines that melt away with a touch and a prayer.
May we all continue down our journey together, supporting one another with love and peace.