I believe in God. I may have rejected the anthropomorphic father with a flowing white beard for something that resembles the Force more than father time, but still it is a divinity. I may not be able to understand it but I can surely recognize it, in the songs we sing in the faces of those I love and in the simple caring hug that speaks volumes and calms a wounded heart. I believe in a loving God that loves us enough to let us make mistakes, which brings me to the second point:
I believe in Freedom. I believe that all people are free to be whoever they want to be. As john connors once said, there is no fate but what we make. Only our own actions and choices can dictate which of the infinite possible futures that can come into fruition does in fact come into being. God may have written the beginning of the book for us with a few of the main characters, but we are the editors with an infinite supply of red ink. It is up to us to create a main character we can be proud of and surround ourselves with people whom we love. Which brings me to the third point:
I believe in companions. No, not just friends companions but those that travel through life with you because they are companionem from the latin com “with” and panis “bread”, those that you break bread with, and commune with. After his resurrection Jesus was not recognized save in the breaking of the bread, and I have come to recognize my Lord in unexpected and wonderful ways. Every meal with believers, nonbelievers, and everyone in-between has shown me that spark of divinity that lives in all of us. It is in this peace that comes from sharing a meal that I believe the spirit of communion can truly be found.
Through my companions I have found the loving community of Marsh chapel, where I have learned about music, life, love, and faith. I have sung more Bach than I knew existed and am a better person for it, with thanks to Dr. Jarrett. Because of communion and community I appreciate the harmony that transcends time and illuminates different facets of God, thank you Dean Hill, and better appreciate the religion that I have shared every Sunday morning. It is here that I learned the true meaning of ‘passing the peace’ in every embrace and smile with those I love. And it is here that I learned how to best abide with God as he surely abides in me. So I leave you with a bible verse that has helped me through these many years: Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Four years ago as I sat quietly on my coach, heart pounding with anticipation that the envelope in my hands might be an acceptance to Boston University I knew she was with me. And when I pulled out the packet, all shiny, red and white – we are pleased to inform you . . . . . I knew she celebrated with me.
Throughout my childhood my grandmother and I were united by our purpose to help my mother, who worked full time, with her daily tasks. We loved completing a daily “to-do” list. One day we made a special stop to pick up some bulbs at the flower shop. We planted these daffodils – our secret – outside the kitchen window so when they bloomed in spring they would serve as a surprise Mother’s Day gift for my mom. Daffodils hold special meaning for me and remind me of my friendship with my grandmother and her great gift of faith that she shared with me.
Throughout my college experience there have been challenging times when I relied on my faith that my grandmother and God were with me. During a particularly challenging day this spring, answers to what I would do after graduation eluded me. On that day I received an email that reminded me to keep the faith. This was the story sent to me in the e-mail:
The Daffodil Principle written by . . . Anonymous.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there.
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden.” We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.
It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn. “Just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking”, was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.
I soon left the church in search of other spiritual paths. I loved Buddhism, though didn’t practice enough to call myself Buddhist. Hinduism I found to be fascinating, though in need of far more research than what I was able to devote. After years of dabbling, I ceased my search. There must have been a religion that fully encompassed my spirituality; I just hadn’t been able to find it.
Then I moved to Boston. My move to the north was a planned adventure. It was a time for me to break away from home and establish who I was. I hadn’t planned for this renaissance of self to be inclusive of my faith, but as is with all great epiphanies, it happened completely by accident and unexpected.
One day, I was on the train coming home from the city. I had just finished a conversation with my brother, and when I hung up my cell phone I began my favorite train riding hobby and listened to the people around me. I kid you not, every single person was engaged in a conversation, but each was speaking a different language. The train was packed, and not one person was speaking English. I was surrounded by voices in different languages that fused together to create a wonderful feeling of unity. Here we were, complete strangers from different walks of life, all speaking in different tongues, yet on a similar path. Some just recently entered the train, some would reach their destinations before others, but we were all taking the journey together.
This is what faith means to me. Whether it be Taoism, Sufism, Christianity, Buddhism, faith is faith no matter what form. I found that day that my faith is comprised of tidbits from conversations of each, for in the end, though we may speak completely different religious languages, we are all speaking to the same power. And though we may end up in different destinations, inevitably we are all travelers on the same spiritual journey. This I believe.