Most Americans find it difficult to identify with the Jews who rock before the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I know I did at first.
It seemed, well, just . . . odd.
Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?
Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.”
- Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
- Their prayers are public and loud and showy; ours are private and quiet and restrained.
- They rock back and forth and mumble from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes and utter unrehearsed words.
It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.
Blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s totally pointless.
Maybe we Christians should open our eyes during prayer for a change.