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I was raised in a rural Ohio community during the '50s. My family attended a large Lutheran congregation where the unison prayer of confession, spoken aloud from the hymnal, stated "Almighty God, I confess unto thee that I am by nature sinful and unclean..." I internalized what I confessed every Sunday. It became part of my self-esteem, and made the sexual abuse I later experienced an even more shameful secret. How could I tell anyone without their thinking I was sinful and unclean? So, yes, words do make worlds. Part of me was forced to live in a world that was partitioned off from the rest of me. It wasn't until years later, through therapy and self-forgiveness, that I became whole.
I don't recall when or where I first read Heschel's quote "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy." I do know it opened for me new possibilites for viewing myself and the world. I posted the quote on my bulletin board and have carried it in my heart ever since. I am thankful for Heschel's affirmation of the goodness of all that God creates (including me) and the holiness of everyday life.