Being religious is something that I've been taught from childhood,but in all honesty,I'm not a very religious person.At least not in the traditional sense.I don't go to church every Sunday and I don't read my Bible nearly as much as a 'Christian' is 'supposed' to.
And this is where I say the phrase that I never understood when used by other people when I was younger,but which I feel best describes me now - I'm not religious,but I'm a Believer.
I believe that one higher power (whatever you want to call him - God,Allah,Buddha)created this beautiful universe and everything in it,and I also believe in an afterlife (I guess my idea of the afterlife would best be described by the movie 'What Dreams May Come' for some reason).
But just because I am not overtly religious,doesn't mean that I would deny other people their beliefs.Not at all.I find it truly inspiring to see people who are so strong in their faith,that life can throw anything at them,and they seem to handle it with an ease that I find myself jealous of.Take for example the one doctor in our small town.This past November,their only son (9 yrs old),was playing with a friend,when their ball bounced onto the roof of the friends' house.They both climbed on top of the roof to get the ball,when the doctors' son started slipping.And the nearest thing to grab onto?A live electricity wire that hadn't been fixed yet (the boys' friend and his family had only moved into the house about a month earlier).
The doctors' son was electrocuted to death,even after his little friend hurt himself trying to save him.His friend (also 9) tried to do CPR on him,even though the only time he had ever seen CPR was what he had seen on TV or in movies.Unfortunately,nothing could save the boy,and tragically,his father was the doctor on call,so he was the one to pronounce his son dead.
For a father,mother and the boys' older sister to have to go through something like this,seems to me to be completely unbearable.I don't know if I would have the strength to survive a tragedy like this one.However,in the weeks following his death,plenty of people commented on how calm his mother and father were,and that they must be heavily medicated or something,because why weren't they completely destroyed by this?It was my boyfriends' mom,who herself is a very religious person,who told me that she had talked to the boys' mother,and that she had told her that although it was a horrible tragedy and she missed her son,she had complete peace about her son,because he was safe in God's hands.
She also said that she felt that he was always destined to live a short life,and that he had crammed the experiences of a 70 year old into the span of 9 years.He had been overseas many times,he was an experienced little hunter,he excelled in swimming,athletics and rugby and was a very smart little boy.
This makes me very sad,because it makes me think of my own life,and what I have accomplished (or the lack of what I've accomplished).What will people say/think about me when I'm gone one day?
That's why I decided a long time ago,that even though I might not be very religious,I would still try to be the best person I can to others,and treat all people with respect,to the best of my abilities.You know the famous verse - do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.That's my motto.
As an afternote in this rather sad post,comes some more tearjerking words.This is an email a friend sent me today.Now,this is a typical religious email,but for some reason the story (whether made up or real,I don't know) struck a cord,and made me shed a few tears.
Breakfast at McDonald's
I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree.
The last class I had to take was Sociology.
The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with.
Her last project of the term was called, 'Smile.'
The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions.I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake.
Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning.It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son.
We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.I did not move an inch... an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.
As I turned around I smelled a horrible 'dirty body' smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men.As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was 'smiling'.His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance.He said, 'Good day' as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation.
I held my tears as I stood there with them.The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.He said, 'Coffee is all Miss' because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).
Then I really felt it - the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes.That is when I noticed all eyes in the
restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray.
I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman's cold hand.. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, 'Thank you.'
I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, 'I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.'
I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, 'That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope..'
We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.
We are not church goers, but we are believers.
That day showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love.
I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand.
I turned in 'my project' and the instructor read it.
Then she looked up at me and said, 'Can I share this?'
I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.
She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed.
In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my son,the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.
I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:
LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS
NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE