My car’s detailing is being supervised by a very Catholic chaplain who really doesn’t lie, really does respect others, really does care about his world, and really does put his time, life and energy into working for the greater good. He’s pleasant and charming in a comfortable way, and his whole demeanor is slightly aglow. He’s a man on a mission, and it’s one that coheres with his best innermost self.
Obviously, what comes next is about the general perception of certain groups — not individual or local impressions, but the wider impression that history, actions/consequences, and the publicity about them, have left in the public mind…
Lutheranism isn’t known for sweetness, and one of my uncles is both a devout Lutheran and one of the most kindly, gentle, nonjudgmental people I’ve ever met. It really works for him.
Atheism isn’t known for consideration, yet this culture of argument which so often defines itself in terms of opposition has turned out some of the most resolutely practical, inspiring and embracing activist-philosophers of any creed in this age.
It’s possible to go on for some time, but let’s take a moment to realize that all belief systems look a little odd from the outside, despite the fact that living a belief system is a seriously powerful thing to do. It’s one of the great ironies of humanity.
I suspect it’s a clue: it matters on the inside, but shouldn’t matter on the outside. Being responsible to our own internal structure (respecting our own uniqueness) makes sense, but trying to push our framework onto others (disrespecting the uniqueness of others) does not.
Decency and moral stature don’t belong to any one belief, but they do belong to the human race. Each of us is at least as different in our inmost selves as we are in our outward lives. When you think about it, it would be impossible — bizarre and irrational — for us all to believe the same way.
Anyone who finds a path — whether well-defined or idiosyncratic — that gives them, in their uniqueness, real strength and purpose holds a great gift and a powerful tool.
I no longer fear the differences of belief and it’s been a long time since I held any in contempt, but I’ve taken a step back to simply admire and appreciate them, filled with joy tinged with awe.
We are an astoundingly diverse species, inside and out. Such an abundance of different ways to be should make us fitter than ever to handle anything. When we enjoy and admire our variety, rather than fretting over it, I’ve noticed that that’s exactly what happens: together, we can handle anything.
After we had done the paperwork, this chaplain and I continued our conversation and I wound up telling him about the purpose of this trip, the reason I was dropping scarce money on prepping my car.
As I did so, I felt my own coherence of integrity coming into focus, the energetic union of innermost self and outer reality.
And I realized: I’m on a mission. Regardless of my own outcome, I’m certain now of leaving the world better for my feeble but determined efforts.
This radiant chaplain is going to pray for me and my work. The science shows that prayer and meditation correlate to better outcomes, regardless of the forms used. To bring the science back to life and into specifics, I know that the prayers of someone so coherently devout are powerful help.
I’m a handicapped woman on a mission which is technically impossible. But now, I do have a prayer 🙂