... And what the L‑rd requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your G‑d ... (Micah 6:8)

The process of finding your Jewish soul, regardless of the age at which you begin (and I am 67), not only turns you awayG‑d has become an integral partner in my life from whatever other life you have been living, it abruptly sets you on a path cleared of confusion and fear, and offers a way with more light and transparency.

Each new Jewish experience makes this clearer to me. Suddenly, G‑d has become an integral partner in my life. I can feel His guiding presence and approval as I study Hebrew—the language of my people—or participate in High Holy Day services, or sit quietly and read and absorb the beauty of the Psalmists’ voices.

When I asked Rabbi Yosef Goldwasser, the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Mobile, Ala., to place a mezuzah on the doorframe of my bedroom, he did so with a short blessing. In that moment, I felt a sense of calm and Divine protection. I do have a mezuzah at my front door already, but somehow the certainty of G‑d’s presence and protection for myself and my husband in the hours we sleep is powerful and comforting. During the rabbi’s coming visits, I plan to add a mezuzah to each appropriate doorway of my home.

My beloved grandfather, Velvel Sterling, passed away on the eve of Rosh Hashanah in 1986. Truly, it was one of the saddest days of my entire life. This year, on his yahrzeit, as part of my Jewish growth, I procured a yahrzeit candle to burn in his memory. I expected that experience to bring a measure of sadness. I was wrong. Praying thankfully for his long presence in my life—for the wisdom he brought, for his endless good humor and generosity—brought a quiet joy.

In the light of that small shining candle, I saw his smile, which came easily, and often, and lit up the lives of those around him. And in lighting that candle, I received yet again the gift of connection to my heritage and people.

As I begin to lean more and more into my “Jewishness” and what that means, I can clearly see that I have new responsibilities. Now I am not just responsible for myself: I am linked by my faith and thousands of years of tradition to every other Jew in the world. My actions—the words from my mouth or the thoughts in my head—have consequences that reach far beyond my own little insular world and can help bring Moshiach sooner. They are part and parcel of G‑d’s relationship and connection to all of his chosen people, and therein lies my responsibility to that connection.

It’s not that I won’t make mistakes. It’sI can reroute and keep trying that I now know that I can reroute and keep trying, and that G‑d will be there to forgive and to set me back on my chosen journey to be a better Jew with a collective consciousness.

As I grow into my Jewish self, I feel like the proverbial caterpillar. Having been cocooned for such a long time, I am suddenly a blue-and-white butterfly, and my view of the world—as I look upon it from a higher place—is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I can see the threads of my connection to the Jewish world spreading far and wide, and I can see my place in it, and what I need to do to continue to help create the tapestry of that connection.