There’s a bar near the giant TV tower in Prague with creepy crawling baby statues (Žižkov TV Tower, look it up!) that serves free sangria on Tuesday nights. My friends and I have made a habit of going whenever we have the chance, and it has become a great way for us to take the time to sit, talk, and learn about each other.
A few weeks ago at sangria night, I had the chance to bond with a friend of mine who lives three doors away from me in my dorm here in Prague. This is actually her second semester abroad. Her first was spent volunteering in India and she has some incredible stories about the kids she worked with and her overall experience there. That night, we spoke about her time in India, but we also spoke more broadly about God and religion and belief. She wanted to learn more about Judaism. I wanted to learn more about Hinduism, which she practices.
We discussed the specific tenets of each faith – their basic beliefs and practices – but then we moved on to a more personal discussion. We spoke about how we each viewed God and what role we felt God played in our worlds. We spoke about religion and how we chose to practice our personal faiths. We spoke about our values and about what we held dear. We spoke about our experiences and about how our spirituality shapes them.
I learned a lot from that discussion, not only about Hinduism and my friend’s life, but also about mine. In being asked to articulate my personal feelings about God and religion, I was forced to really think about these things and engage with my belief in ways I am not normally asked to do.
I realized that the God I choose to subscribe to is different from anyone else’s God – Jewish, Hindu, or otherwise. But I also realized that while my being Jewish certainly shapes my view of God, it is not the only factor in the equation.
Though my friend is of a different religion, our versions of God share many similar qualities. We may be of different faiths, but fundamentally, what we want from God, from religion, and from the world is not so different at all.