Of God, Bells, And Life
September 29, 2006
There some lessons in life that profound in their simplicity.
I will explain faith this way. Faith is not an answer, but it changes the nature of your questions. An answer would stop your growth, but the new questions fuel your growth. Faith turns your focus away from your own pain, frustration, worries, limitations and fears. Faith turns you toward the wider world, where you have the chance to experience the joy that reverberates through each day in our world like the ringing of a great bell.
So says Maxed Out Mama, in her post, The Ringing Of The Bell. The post is her extraordinary story- one of pain and redemption, written with the fresh memory of an exquisite agony and the ongoing dull ache of the healing process.
Religion, or rather, faith, is about illuminating the darkness. In other words, belief in God does not magically sweep away doubt or struggle. Nor does belief in God answer the ‘what is our purpose and meaning. ‘ questions. Belief in God, however, necessitates faith, and it is that faith, with all it’s ensuing struggles, that illuminates our way. In other words, our struggle with life and search for meaning endures. With faith, the path we must follow is illuminated. Without faith, we are left to stumble down that same path.
There is much in life that is confusing and cold. Many more than would care to admit, live lives of ‘quiet desperation.’ We wander about in a world that celebrates materialism and self absorption, all the while seeking meaning and inner peace. Faith alone will not, of course, end that search, but it may make the struggle more meaningful.
There is a by product of the illuminating light of faith. Not only is our own path illuminated, but that light can also illuminate and warm others.
As we search for meaning and purpose in life, we can along the way, illuminate the way for others, or add to their confusion. It is our choice. If we shine the light of faith as a beacon light into someone’s eyes, we will only blind them. If that light is pointed toward the path- in other words, our actions are taken to benefit others- we have helped ourselves. That is the choice each of us face every single day.
How we will be remembered will be to a very large extent, how we were regarded by others. Did we blind them with our own ideologies or hubris, or did we illuminate the path they were on, so that they might avoid the obstacles in their way, and did we point out new paths for them to consider? There is no middle ground. Who we are can be easily defined.
Here is a variation of an exercise, learned from a friend. Each day, find thirty times to do something positive for someone else. Call home for no reason. Encourage a friend. Talk to each of your kids. Say something kind to a co worker. Extend yourself- that is, illuminate the way for another, thirty times a day.
That simple exercise teaches by example. It is true that many exert power by command. Others exert influence by example. The power of the former lasts only as long as they are present, or by fear and intimidation. The power of the latter lasts as long as they continue to inspire. You rise to a higher level on your own, inspired to find your higher self.
So it is with faith. God may be overbearing or he may be loving. How we interpret His influence on our lives- and how influence other lives, says a great deal about who we are.
Read The Ringing Of The Bell- and consider ‘thirty times a day.’ We don’t know for sure but we suspect MOM is already on the program.
This post was originally published on August 17. 2005. Life goes on. Maxed Out Mama continues to teach by example. She takes nothing for granted.