Listening for the Unexpected

As the son of a United Methodist pastor, the grandson of a United Methodist theologian, the grand-nephew of a widely-known United Methodist preacher, the grand-nephew of a United Methodist theology teacher, and even the great-grandson of an Irish immigrant Methodist clergy, the term Methodist carries a great deal of meaning in my life. Inundated with a Methodist-centric perspective from birth, my first eighteen years  focused almost solely on the United Methodist tradition and the practices of the denomination.

It was not until my freshman year at BU that I challenged myself to venture outside of the Methodist realm. I attended Roman-Catholic services, worked with individuals at Hillel, volunteered with a Protestant student group, and even dated a Mormon for a brief time. I quickly began to understand that some of my expectations of different religions were accurate and others were not.

Yet, what became most apparent throughout my experiences was the unexpected nature of religion, and more pointedly, faith. Though I did seek out certain experiences, other experiences simply happened upon me. My faith formation became an interesting combination of thoughtful action and improbable chance.

Throughout my time at BU I’ve found that my experience of other religions never fails to cease. I continue to meet fellow students from different faith backgrounds and denominations who challenge my perceived notions of the world and of who God is. In doing so, my spiritual practices have taken many different forms throughout my time in Boston.

However, prayer and music have always dominated my spiritual practices. Whether by singing or playing piano on Sunday’s, music continues to be an unmistakeable tether to my belief in God. Quiet and shared prayer also tends to be a spiritual practice I value, yet I seem to pray much more when in times of strife and conflict.

The act of listening to the experiences and beliefs of others is a spiritual practice that I find most central to my college life at BU. Though I am seeped in familial United Methodism, choosing to open my ears to a chorus of new voices from different walks of social and ethnic spheres helped to strengthen my faith the most. These voices range from the intellectual members of the book study on Sunday mornings to the homeless man that sits outside of the CFA. They range from my Muslim Marsh Associate to my fellow Methodist Marsh Associate. They range from the pulpit of Dean Hill to the pulpit of my father. Sometimes these voices are unexpected. And in those unexpected moments is where I see God most.


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