Rivkah Writes…

August 26, 2009

An Invisible Presence

I have a comfortable understanding with God. I accept that I can’t know everything, that the significance of a single event may elude me until the wider picture comes into focus, that on occasion, I may suffer and struggle, but will ultimately find relief. And in return, I believe God looks out for me, allowing me to find connections, clarity, and closure.

Of course, I have to be on the look out for signs of God’s protection. Daily existence is full of static that tends to drown out the sources of epiphany, so it helps to remain alert. That’s why, for me, concepts such as God, clarity, and the unseen aren’t limited to the synagogue and High Holy Days. Rather, belief, faith, and the Deity are omniscient and omnipresent in my world, and this helps me find answers or hope in the most unlikely of places. Like horoscopes. In the Jewish tradition, horoscopes are considered kishuf, or magic, and therefore forbidden. Nevertheless, nothing will stop me from finding my daily horoscope and testing it against my current reality. And here again, my approach is trusting and untroubled. If my reading is on target, God is obviously sending me a message, channeling it through the horoscope because he knows I read it daily. If my reading misses the mark, though, I overlook it; no one gets it right all the time.

I think my first inkling of the synergy between the divine and the secular occurred when I was 11. Doctors had found a benign lump in my shoulder and determined it had to come out. My parents didn’t tell me until the day before the actual surgery was scheduled to take place, and while I didn’t kick up a fuss, I was scared. This was not my first surgery, but it was the first time I faced the prospect of going under anesthetic with full knowledge of what that entailed: I would be unconscious for the space of time it took to perform the minor procedure, and it was this that filled me with panic.

The following day, sitting up in bed in my hospital gown, I waited to be taken to the operating room while my parents alternately held my hand consolingly or wandered the halls. Feeling sick with anxiety, I tried to take my mind off the imminent ordeal, and picked up a magazine. As I flipped distractedly through the pages, the horoscope section caught my eye. I’d never really paid much attention to horoscopes before, and given my current state of mind, didn’t even know for sure whether I was a Virgo or a Taurus; I settled on Virgo – who wants to be a bull? – and proceeded to read the following: “You’re very nervous about an event that will take place in your life. But don’t worry, everything will be all right.” That was it. For some reason, the simple sentences I’d already heard from my parents and doctors comforted me enormously. The fact that, as I later discovered, I was actually a Taurus, did nothing to dissipate my belief that God had sent me a message – on the contrary. I was in need and God had found a way to palliate my fears – it was wonderful, mysterious, and I was not going to argue with it.

Over the years I’ve continued to check my daily horoscope. In addition to the sometimes-apt readings, it’s become a way to mark time until my sign is first on the list, which means my birthday month has arrived. These days, though, I’m careful to check under Taurus rather than Virgo. Now that I know better, I can’t expect God to work overtime on my behalf.

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