Over the past few months, I have explored the different ways guest contributors and I experience faith. In one post, I talked about the ability to “wait for it.” A friend recently shared how her efforts to grow in patience have led her to see patience as the practice of empathy. Since patience is not a strength of mine, her comment got my attention. I was reminded of how my impatience often comes from a belief I know better or best in most situations and an accompanying unwillingness to wait for or respect someone else’s approach. I now see that a corrective act of faith is to believe everyone is entitled to a personal point of view. In this more open response to alternative approaches, I know I don’t have to accept unacceptable situations. Rather I believe that I can make a choice in a way that is empathic and respectful without attacking what is different.
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Last week I shared a post by guest contributor Eileen Doud where she shared her faith in Jesus. Oddly to some, this was the first time my exploration of faith directly mentioned Jesus. I say “oddly” because I was raised as a Catholic, studied for a while to be a Catholic priest and continue to be a practicing Catholic. I do believe in Jesus and, at the same time, believe there are many names and ways of conceiving of a power greater than me, the divine, the Big Spirit or God.
The posts for the past several months have focused on the many ways that faith is experienced and guides lives. Focusing on faith has led me to revisit some of my own beliefs and to look more deeply at others’ beliefs.
A friend of mine lost his wife recently after a three-year battle with cancer. Anytime we saw Bill and Margaret together, their total and deep love for each other was obvious. Talking with him and hearing his devotion and connection to her was inspiring. Now as he grieves his loss, he is alone in the same home, taking the same walks, eating meals at about the same time. And yet it is all different. And profoundly sad.
I recently attended a memorial service for my older cousin, Paul, back in the community where I grew up. While I have not always considered it so, I increasingly appreciate the blessings of being born into a large family. My Mom came from a large, farm family of Irish Catholics. She had two brothers and three sisters – all of whom married and had four to eight children. It’s a challenge sometimes to remember all my cousin’s names, never mind the next generations of their children and grandchildren. In contrast, my Dad had only one sister but my three siblings and I share two wonderful cousins from that side of the family.
A few recent experiences reinforced my restlessness about how all of us face the destructive power of addiction in our lives and communities. I’d like to connect this topic to the current series exploring different ways faith develops in different lives and communities.
Last week my wife and I took our 13-year-old grandson to Disney World in Florida as a birthday treat. We joined thousands of other people at Epcot one day and at Animal Kingdom the next. Given the 90 plus heat and the crowds, I approached this trip with mixed feelings – anticipation of my joy of being with him and his joy of being there. Yet I feared the heat and crowds. In Disney speak, they call my experience “the magic.” In my faith, we would call it a miracle.
My post on the movie Nomadland stirred some great conversations. These discussions caused me to see how my circumstances as a financially secure, privileged white man led to some unintentional romanticizing of the experience of being homeless and living in the back of a pick-up truck.
Our local movie theatre reopened recently with a showing of
Nomadland. What a wonderful way for the theater and the people who attended to come out of Covid-time. The movie is a sweet story of a woman whose husband dies and loses her job to a factory closing. Then she loses her community due to the loss of a major employer. She takes to the road with her losses, her pain and her inkling of residual hope.
Most things that are important to me require a leap of faith. Loving requires faith that I won’t be hurt and that it is worth it to risk being my real self.