As a teenager I used to wonder… by Bruce Black


As a teenager I used to wonder if I had faith and would pray to God uttering prayers that spoke of my faith using the words of my father and his father—Blessed are you, O God, Ruler of the Universe—because I hadn’t yet found my own words for prayer. I had faith that God could hear me when I prayed, even if my prayers were silent, but then my mother, who lit Shabbat candles on Friday nights, and whose eyes were lit with the kind of faith that I could only dream of, was diagnosed with cancer. Within six months, despite my prayers, she was gone. But was she truly gone? That’s when I knew with a certainty that mystified me then, and still mystifies me now, that God rules our universe in ways that are unknowable, impenetrable, and beyond human understanding, and that I have faith in a God who I cannot see or hear, yet who I believe sees and hears me. Forty years after her death I have faith my mother’s spirit or soul is still part of this universe, part of the air I breathe, hidden, like faith, inside my heart, still alive.


Bruce Black is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press/Shambhala) and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project ( He received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from Vermont College. His work has appeared in Poetica, Elephant Journal, Blue Lyra Review, Tiferet Journal, The Jewish Literary Journal, Mindbodygreen, LA Yoga, OM Yoga, Yogi Times, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL. 

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