Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thoughts on a Snowy Morning

It is snowing this morning.  It's the kind of sparse snow that bobbles upwards and sideways even more than it floats downwards.  I watched the squirrels in the trees outside my window for quite a while after waking up.  I'm glad to live in a place with squirrels again - they bring back memories of childhood in Minnesota.  I was amazed at the perceptability of the squirrels, in a squirrel's sphere.  I watched one squirrel leap from one tree to the next, flying a distance and landing (rather ungracefully) on a small and bending twig.  The squirrel was hanging by two paws, but scrambled up quickly and continued on his way.  How did he know that branch was close enough?  Big enough?  How did he know the branch wouldn't break?

Last night was the first night of Channukah.  We celebrated with Sarah and her family and fifty other Jewish students and community members from Cambridge.  We were all crammed into Sarah's living room and kitchen with barely enough room (and sometimes not enough room) to move from place to place.  But the atmosphere was happy, lively and friendly and I enjoyed the experience immensely.  I met several interesting people, though I found myself occasionally in the uncomfortable situation of being assumed Jewish and not knowing how to tell them abruptly that I wasn't actually.  If I tell them immediately ("hello, my name is Amy and I'm Christian") I sound overly paranoid or differentiating.  If I wait until the first reference to Jewish life, it is like admitting I know nothing about that reference and then am precluded from the conversation.  I should note, most references are not addressed directly to me and do not require any response at all.  However, even smiling in affirmation helps the assumptions of my new Jewish acquaintances.  If I do respond, though, and share my own experiences in Israel or speak my own word of Hebrew, then I am admitting myself into Jewish life as a Jew who knows.  Not only is it deceptive (though unintentionally), it causes problems later when I am (for example) asked to tutor a man's children in Hebrew or asked on a date by a young man wearing a kippah (admittedly, there are bigger problems with the later scenario.  At that point I am less concerned about how to tell the young man I'm not Jewish and far more concerned with how to tell the young man I am happily married).  Despite my challenge of balancing the love and knowledge of the Jewish tradition with my identity as a Christian, though, I was grateful for the evening away from my essay.  I appreciate Sarah's friendship; I hope it continues to grow.

Late last night I watched the 2004 BBC mini-series called North & South.  It was a complex drama about 1850s industrial Britain.  It was so good, I think I will watch it again on Saturday after the essay has been submitted and the term is officially over.

Down to four days now.