Culture and Tradition: Explosions!

My spiritual journey looks like an explosion!   This is not entirely metaphorical for me.  My first understanding of G_d was when I was 7 or 8 years old and the engine to our family car exploded.  My family had a classic 70’s custom van that had stalled while my mother was bringing my sister and me home from swim class.  My dad made his way from his office to the disabled van and began to work on the engine.  The engine wasn’t turning over and my dad began to pour gas in the carburetor.  After a few tries, he said “it almost took that time, try it again.”  The sound of success was quickly followed by an explosion as the gas ignited and a fireball hit my dad square in the face.  My dad lived to tell the tale, albeit without eyebrows, and to cheat death again another day; I am happy to report that he still lives in California today leading a very active life.
What does this have to do with G_d?  The exploding van was the first of many times I reached out for and felt connected to a power greater than myself. In my youth, my family was never connected to a church and my parents were not spiritual or not interested in what organized religion had to offer.  As a teenager, I burst into a Catholic high school and felt the comfort of identifying with the Jesuit teachings and the shared community of the church.  My school’s motto of “Be a man for others” was a daily guide for the community and the charity and faith in humanity that I learned in high school still guides me today.
Over my life there have been other explosions; more life changes than fireballs but each accelerated me on my spiritual journey.  Meeting Kate, becoming part of her family and forming a family with her was another spiritual bomb for me.  Kate is Jewish and being invited into her family provided me with an outlet for my spirituality.  In the Temple for services, I felt my connection with the holy again and felt the connection to the larger world through her community.
The largest explosions were becoming a husband and becoming a father four times over!  These are the blasts that keep me changing and evolving:  From planning a family with my beautiful wife, who joined with me and encouraged me in my desire to not only have biological children but to adopt children on through to my first child become a young man, my personal and spiritual evolution has brought me to the belief that there is a divine universal energy that touches each and every life and infuses the elements around us. 
My belief in this divine energy made a Unitarian Universalist church a natural stop on my spiritual journey given our seventh principle – Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Jeff Hlava
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