My God Illusion at 37,000 feet.

I realise that if I keep this up, I run the risk of turning my blog into a “God-Blog” but hey ho… after all it is supposed to be the many ramblings of my inner mind…

Anyway, on Friday something very odd happened;

On Friday I was flying from London Luton to Glasgow for the weekend. We were delayed 45 minutes and I was restless. I was crammed into my seat, on that Bright Orange airline… I’d listened to the Safety briefing… and as the plane taxied the final few meters onto the runway, something strange happened… something that never happened to me when flying before…. I started to say the Shema. (for those that don’t know It’s the centrepiece of the Jewish Morning and evening prayer service, and is said as your last words or in times when you think you might die)…

 

I got as far as the third word “Shema… Yisroel……. Adoni…….” or in English… “Hear O’Israel… The Lord”. I stopped. I stumbled. I thought. A few weeks ago, I decided that I didn’t believe in god, but now I’m sat amongst a sea of people, onboard a chunk of orange metal, travelling on the Sabbath muttering to myself about god. I’d gone meshuggeh (Crazy in Yiddish).

I stopped, reminded myself what I thought sat back, watched out the window and off we took….

I’d never felt  the need to say a prayer before flying before… not even to Israel, why now?!

I spent the first 10 minutes, of my hour and 10 minute flight, fluttering. Trying to avoid what had just happened; I tried listening to Miranda’s Book, but I couldn’t concentrate… I tried playing candy crush but got bored within seconds. Eventually I stood up, marched to the front of the plane, and joined the toilet queue.

Having finished my business I lingered for a moment, inside the small cell that is the plane toilet. My mind began to wander…I was high in the air… and I’d just had a God issue. I was not prepared for this.

I caught a glimpse of myself in mirror realised the tap had stopped running and there was soap still on my hand… I washed off the soap, dried off and opened the toilet door to a rather unhappy looking queue of 6 people.

I strolled down the plane back to my seat, and sat staring out the window, trying to make sense of what had just happened. The short answer, and in fact the only answer was… I couldn’t.

For the remaining hour or so my mind dillydallied through the clouds I was watching out the window. I was considering everything… I was oblivious to the dire selection of sandwiches, and blind to the hideous watches on offer on the duty free trolley.

I realised a number of things:

I realised that I might not believe in God but I still feel a very strong connection to my people the Jewish People. The traditions, the music, the jokes, culture etc.

I realised that I might not believe in God, but perhaps the Mystical “God” played a vital part in shaping the traditions, culture etc. that I know and love.

I realised that the Mystical “God” was probably a way of keeping things in order in years gone by… a Fear…. people believed that if they did something out of line… this mystical thing would come and “get them”

Most weird and most importantly to me: The Prayers/Psalms/Songs/Chants/words/texts; although I don’t believe in God they are strangely comforting and I do find my self singing bits and bobs now and then!

Bemused, confused and amused, I sat staring out the window, at the flimsy looking piece of metal, keeping me afloat, stopping me from falling to my orange draped death….

Shortly, we made our decent… the Air Hostess pressing the wrong button a number of times causing the cabin lights, to flash on and off like a disco. (Thankfully we had no Epileptics on board!) The wheels came down, and we slowly fell out the sky onto the Tarmac of Glasgow airport.

I had a lovely weekend, and oddly, I didn’t have a repeat on the return flight… I suppose there is more in this journey of religious identity to come… I might not believe in God… but I feel my identity as a Jew shining stronger than ever.