Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why I Am Wearing a Jewish Chai Necklace

Image courtesy silverspeck
 The other day, a small package arrived in the mail that held a necklace I'd ordered.  It was the necklace you see in the photo in this post: a Jewish chai.  Chai is the Hebrew word for life, and I thought it would be a good reminder for me that I'd chosen the word "alive" as my word for the year.  Before I ordered it, I checked with my friend Yaakov to make sure it wouldn't be offensive at all for a non-Jewish person to decide to wear something that is decidedly Jewish, and he assured me it would not be.  

I'm not entirely sure what draws me to wearing it.  Perhaps it is because I think Hebrew is a beautiful language (even though I can't read or speak it).  There's something about knowing how ancient the words are, how the word chai takes us back to both creation stories in Genesis: living creatures, every living thing, the breath of life.  It's more than the use of the word there, though.  When I look at the first creation story, when "the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep" (1:1), it is as if everything is asleep, waiting silently for God to wake it up and help it to come alive and realize its full potential.  

For reasons that are different for all of us, we often don't realize that we are asleep and need to wake up and come alive.  Or we wake up and press the snooze button.  Or the many activities we are involved in get in the way.  Coming alive isn't instantaneous.  Regardless of whether one believes in a literal or figurative six-day-creation, we can see that it takes some amount of time for life to happen. 

So, sometimes we need some reminders along the way, and that's what I hope wearing this necklace will do for me.  Is it some magical amulet that will make me come alive?  Not at all.  But it is symbolic, and I am hoping that it will be helpful.  Maybe, on days when it is easy to forget to be alive, those days where everything seems to be going wrong or is in disaray, I will touch it or see it and remember: wake up, don't hit the snooze button. Come Alive.

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Amy McG said...

Beautiful necklace and an even more beautiful idea. I have lots of thoughts on this topic and will be making a contribution in the near future. Thanks for getting this conversation started!

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Sorry for the confusing duplication about the linkup at the end of the post...I'm working on figuring out how I did that and how to fix it!

Brenda W. said...

I love the necklace idea!