A few years ago, when we started working with the MA Free Masons, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony at one of their lodges where they were inducting new leadership for the next term. I watched with great curiosity as these men in full Mason regalia marched single file into the room. They ceremoniously exchanged squares, compasses and other symbolic items with one another as they were sworn in to their new positions. And, once inducted, each took their place at the appropriate cardinal point in the room. Honestly, it all seemed a bit strange to me.
Then, a few days later, I found myself sitting in Temple for the Jewish New Year. I looked around at men wearing beanies on their heads (Yalmukas) and white scarves with hebrew words around their necks (Talit). I watched the congregation rise as the Ark was opened to remove the scroll (Torah). And I listened to the clergy in long white robes on the stage (Bima) lead chants in a language that virtually no one could really understand. To me, this was normal. But, as I thought about my experience with the Free Masons, I realized how weird it may be for a non-Jew to experience.
Almost every group of people has it’s own set of rituals, practices and traditions that may seem strange to outsiders, but are normal to those practicing it – religious groups, fraternities, sororities, businesses, families, groups of friends and many others. But, the reality is that these shared peculiarities and strange rituals serve to create some of the strongest bonds that we have with other people.
- We gain a special connection with those whom we share them.
- We better understand people when we understand why they do them.
- We learn more about ourselves by understanding the seemingly strange rituals of others.
- We are more accepting of people who seek to understand our own “weird” rituals.
- We find commonalities with others when we recognize that we’re all a bit weird.
In this time of great political and national divide, we must recognize that weird is normal. Weird is only weird to those who don’t seek to understand. So, rather than judge and mock, let’s learn. This will make us stronger and more united.
So today, I ask you, What’s your weird? Please share so we can all understand, learn and become more united.
As always, thanks for listening. Have a great day. And, for all of those celebrating the Jewish New Year, L’Shana Tova!