Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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This past week, Monica and I escaped to Florida during her spring break and my time off from work. We headed to Orlando with the intention of reverting back to our childhood and being kids again. I think we both had a wake-up call and quickly realized we’re no longer children with our parents planning the trip and making sure everything runs smoothly.
Our first snafu came as we arrived at the airport to find there was no shuttle to our hotel, despite being promised one. We eventually took a way-too-expensive cab ride, which made us miss the easy and accessible commuting options of New York.
Throughout the remainder of our stay in Orlando I realized how grateful I am for my parents. Every summer we’d vacation together and they planned everything. I never had to worry about transportation anywhere or having enough cash on me. It seemed we came across badly behaved kids everywhere in Disney World, making me more and more thankful I had parents who paid attention to me, disciplined me when I needed it, and, most importantly, loved me unconditionally even when I frequently expressed that I would have rather been at a friend’s birthday party than on vacation with them. (That’s what happens in everyone’s teens, right?)
During our last two days, Monica and I finally decided to rent a car for the remainder of our trip and head to Daytona Beach. Relieved to not rely on public transportation to get around, and escape the screaming babies of Disney, we relaxed on the beach. And, after two bad sunburns, once again we fled from the reality of being adults — this time to the movie theater where we saw Soul Surfer, a film I’ve been anxious to see.
A powerful true story about Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who survived a shark attack and went on to become a professional surfer, despite losing her arm, the film paints a vivid picture of the unconditional love of her family and the struggles and triumphs they all face after her arm was amputated. You see the parents suffer and try to cope with the fact that their daughter was attacked and the constant questioning as to how God could allow such a thing. Bethany’s constant questioning about when she can get back into the water showcases her courage and persistence. “When the time is right you’ll know. Until then, you pray and you listen,” her father tells her.
Maybe because Easter was approaching and the family was portrayed as religious — going to church, Bible study, mission trips and quoting the Bible — but I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world God handled His only son dying on the cross for us. Bethany’s parents had trouble dealing with her shark attack, but how could any father watch his son be taunted, nailed to a cross and die right before his own eyes? It’s the ultimate sacrifice. I wouldn’t be here today if it didn’t happen and sometimes this concept is so hard to grasp.
At the end of the film Bethany is asked a poignant question by a reporter. “If you could go back to the day of the attack, would you have stayed out of the water?” Her reply: a confident “No.” She said she wouldn’t have changed a thing because if it never happened, she wouldn’t have been able to reach all the kids who needed to see her situation in order to overcome their own obstacles.
“When you have faith, anything is possible.”
I couldn’t agree more.
This Easter I vow to be fully present and aware of all my blessings. Jesus gave his life so I could be free to live mine. I hope I live it to my fullest potential. How did you spend your Easter?