Getting Ready. Two Weeks to the starting line in Seattle, Washington.
This summer I am going to spend nine weeks bicycling and writing my way across the United States. This is the story of my journey home.
I am not Jewish, but if you were to look at my life, it would seem like I am. My partner is a Sephardic Jew. All four of her grandparents were from Turkey and 500 years before that, Spain. We are members of P'nai Or, a Jewish Renewal congregation in West Hartford, CT. Sometimes when we can we go to Shir Hamakom, a Glastonbury musical service.
Occasionally working in Israel, over the years, I have learned a little Hebrew through personal study. I have spent several weeks in the last 15 years working in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa at physical therapy clinics. I was there in Tel Aviv, working on September 11, 2001 but that is a story for another time.
The people I have helped using complementary and alternative medicine, probably have not cared about my religious background. The Israeli rabbi tired of fight terror with terror as the chemotherapy chased down the cancer cells, the orthodox man from New York who had to get a special dispensation from his rabbi for me to touch his face, helping to heal his eyes or the child with cerebral palsy in the Tel Aviv clinic.
I doubt if they care that I grew up Mormon, a global nomad, living in Bogota, Colombia and Brussels, Belgium because my father is an international businessman. Later I lived in Japan and Canada. Nearly half my life, I have been a foreigner, an alien, a gaijin, a third culture kid.
In an unfamiliar group, I know how to adapt, to watch and learn the customs and often I desperately want to belong, to be included, so when I signed up to bicycle on the 2013 Cross USA ride with Hazon and set a goal of raising $10,000 for sustainable agriculture through this non-profit Jewish organization, I started to think about converting to Judaism.
There was an article about the 2012 ride that described the main cyclists as 10 Jews riding across the country. I don't want it to be awkward. When asked how many cyclists are riding and are they all Jewish, I don't organizers to have to say, "there are eleven Jews and one....."
Yes, what am I? It would be understandable if you were confused, I am confused about religion most of the time. Never about spirituality, though. I am good with my relationship with God, but the religion stuff, that is confusing for me.
My ancestors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) five generations back. I was born in Provo, Utah, a hour south of Salt lake City. I graduated from Mormon-owned Brigham Young University in 1982. I took a year and a half off to serve as a Mormon missionary in Tokyo, Japan.
Then I fell in love with a woman, and the trajectory of my idyllic life within the Mormon church veered off its rails. But my faith in the God of my childhood is still strong, perhaps stronger because it is no longer regulated by the rules of old, white, men.
Today, I celebrate Passover, Rosh Shana and Yom Kippur, more than Christmas and Easter. I meditate using chants and words from Tibetan Buddhism and study the words of Rumi and the Sufis. sometimes I attend services at the Universalist Church, with its powerful music and inclusive nature. My Facebook page lists me as religiously eclectic.
It is hard to describe why I probably won't convert to Judaism, even though if you watched what I did, where I went and how I pray, you might already think I was Jewish.
Perhaps, for me, it is like alcohol. What I mean is, I grew up Mormon, so when my friends in high school would say come out drinking with us. I would say, "I don't drink." Sometimes I would add that it is because I am Mormon and observant Mormons don't drink alcohol. Sometimes I would just go out with them and drink cranberry and soda or apple juice and most people never knew I wasn't drinking alcohol.
Then later on when I left the Mormon church, I could have started drinking but, I was in the habit of not drinking. I had seen enough of the damage that alcohol can wreck in people's lives that I just thought, what is the point of starting now.
Of course, when you are in your 40's or 50's and you say you don't drink ever, people often assume that you are a recovering alcoholic and don't push the issue. They don't ask. Sometimes I tell and sometimes I don't.
I think that is how it will be on the Hazon ride, those riders in my group, who I will become friends with, they will know I am not Jewish and that will be fine. And if other people who we meet along the way, assume that I am Jewish, I am good with that because there is a part of me that is.
Home of the Daily Peace Challenge. Learn about world peace - one word and one language at a time. (c) Kimberly Burnham, 2022
The Meaning of Peace in 10,000 Languages
Looking for grant money to complete this peace project
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
860-221-8510 phone and what's app. Skype: Kimberly Burnham (Spokane, Washington)
Author of Awakenings, Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health and P as in Peace, Paix and Perdamiam: an Inner Peace Journal To Stimulate The Brain
Kimberly Burnham, The Nerve Whisperer, Brain Health Expert, Professional Health Coach for people with Alzheimer's disease, Memory Issues, Parkinson's disease, Chronic Pain, Huntington's Ataxia, Multiple Sclerosis, Keratoconus, Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Neuropathy, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Spinal Cord Injuries, Brain Health Coaching ... Contact Kimberly Burnham in Spokane Washington (860) 221-8510 NerveWhisperer@gmail.com.
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I am looking for guest blog opportunities and a position as poet-in-residence. My current project is writing dictionary poems using words in different languages for the English word "peace." You can read some of my poems on Poemhunter .
As poet-in-residence I would write poems on different words in different languages and broadcast them throughout the social media blogosphere. Each poem would link back to your site where the word or language appeared.
I would expect some sort of stipend and a six month to one year placement. Please contact me for details if your organization is interested in having a poet-in-residence to help get your message out. Nervewhisperer@gmial.com
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