Traditions and Spontaneity

I love traditions and deep down, I suspect I am really a traditionalist, for all my pretensions to being a liberal. I love the traditions I learned from my mother and father: how to behave with elders, what to do during Christmas, Easter and other holidays, going and regularly visiting friends and relatives even when there was no occasion, etc. In my own family, I have started our own family traditions: Wednesday dates, flowers at the start of each school year, letters to my sons on important milestones in their lives. Traditions give me a sense a stability in a turbulent world. They put a certain predictability in an otherwise unpredictable world. Traditions keep me grounded, specially at times when I would want to stop the world and get off. Traditions help me stay the course and put discipline in my life. I particularly love the traditions of my faith.

But I also love spontaneity. I am sometimes averse to planning. I love going on spontaneous escapades like a late night snack at an ice-cream parlor or a sudden picnic on a bright and sunny day or a spur-of-the-moment visit to a dear friend or a lovely mountain spot. I enjoy breaking traditions, specially those I find ridiculous or irrelevant. I love breaking into a spontaneous song or dropping everything I am doing to go for a joy ride.  I think Christ was a very spontaneous person. I would have loved spending the day with him.

I have always said that there are two things I would leave my sons: roots and wings. Roots include the traditions that will keep them grounded. Wings is the spontaneity that will give them flight and not tied up to the ground.

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”Mark 7:1-8

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