Recently, as I daven (pray), there is something that continues to leap out at me. Each time I say a bracha (blessing), I think about the fact that it begins by addressing God in the second-person, Baruch ATAH (Blessed are YOU). As I utter those first two words I am speaking to God, rather than about Him, and as I do so, I am sure that I am in His presence. However as I continue with the words of the bracha, God is suddenly gone, as I address Him in the third-person. I am no longer speaking to Him, but rather, only about Him. A distance has been inserted between us, and I feel alone.
This experience I have when saying a bracha seems to be an apt metaphor for how I feel about my relationship with God. There are moments where I feel connected, and feel connection, love and hope as I stand in His presence. At times like that, God is as real to me as any object that I can see. While this sense might continue for a while, giving me the hope that I am permanently there, in the place where I am always standing before God, at some moments, for reasons that are not always clear, I lose that connection. Suddenly God is a thing, or more correctly, an idea to be contemplated. My observance of mitzvot goes from an intimate act building a closeness to the Almighty, to a religiously proscribed activity.
Often I yearningly look for God, hoping to discover His mysterious hiding place. I look inside of me, around me, and at deep texts, with a search that is in itself pleasurable, and suddenly, with a figurative squeal of delight, I have found Him. I win! Then, suddenly, without any warning, He disappears, and I again must look for Him, knowing that looking in the old hiding place almost certainly won’t work. The pursuit begins anew.
If I am to be honest, I must admit that there are moments when the search is not real. I go through the motions, but my heart is not in it. I look in a perfunctory manner. I look, but I do not seek. At those moments, even when God calls out wanting to be found, it is not that I cannot find Him, but choose not to. He is there, announcing His presence in various ways, but I am not listening. I am tired of the search, or rather of searching with the knowledge that I’ll never be done searching. That even when I win, it’s ephemeral. I yearn to be there, rather than merely trying to get there.
Still, there is something to the search. It can be tiring, but it’s also exhilarating, frustrating, and full of promise. God is not just in the hiding spot, but in the search as well. The pursuit itself is part of the finding, the seeking a key part of the discovery.