My Prayer to the World

For decades now my Sunday morning ritual has typically been walking or gardening. I believe that by staying off the religious road I have found a more spiritual path. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking that I might go to church if I could find there what I find so readily on walks, in the garden, or in the arts: and that is something new, something realized, or unexpected.

For example: at this month’s graduation speech at the UW’s Foster School of Business, the student speaker quoted the poet Mary Oliver with the line, “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?” And last month at “Resonance,” a Seattle Pro Musica concert in St. James Cathedral, we witnessed the world premiere of “I Sing Love,” a choral hymn by Bernard Hughes embracing Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Remarkable moments like these are not only what I most love in life, they are what I live for!

Through love bitter things seem sweet,

Through love copper becomes gold.

Through love dregs taste like pure wine.

Through love pain is as a balm.

Through love thorns become the roses,

Through love vinegar becomes sweet wine.

(Excerpt from “Two Wings to Fly,” written by Jalal ad-Din Muhammud Rumi)

Just as love is spoken in many languages, I see the world’s religions as different expressions of the same thing. So I believe in it all. Walk into my writing room with me for a moment. A collection of antique Santos and a stone Buddha sit upon the writing table, silent and nonjudgmental.  I could never write with anyone but Buddha and saints looking on. Crosses hang around the neck of the tallest Santo. Milagros and crucifixes adorn the walls, a reproduction of a Hindu temple carving that was given to me, a handmade candle from the Holy Land, a Wiccan wreath from Salem, Massachusetts, a Native American dream catcher hangs in a window, and a Tibetan prayer flag drapes in a corner. Initially I strung the prayer flags across the room but it looked too much like a gas station.

Despite all the icons, it makes perfect sense that I would wind up in The Pacific Northwest—a region so secular, it’s almost European. One Sunday morning a Seattle friend and I were walking and the subject of religious intolerance came up. She is agnostic, and you know me, I don’t declare myself anything. The insufferable Republican primaries were raging at the time and about to swing through the South, where many of the Evangelicals were having a “problem” with Romney’s Mormon faith. As outsiders, I can’t tell you how provincial and tribal this looks! Ironic, isn’t it, that it falls on people like us to be the most religiously tolerant in all the land? I mean, we don’t care if you are Muslim or Mormon or what-have-you. And I’m proud of that.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “My Prayer to the World

  1. Lynn Grant

    I think the question all people of any faith need to keep foremost in mind is precicely the one Mary Oliver asks–it doesn’t mention for whom one does the living, but the living should be as much for the world as oneself.
    Thanks Kim

  2. Respect and dignity for all people. This goes a long way.

    Julie Greene

  3. P Mayer

    It seems religion is the catalyst for much conflict in the world… live and let live…

  4. Alexander Finn

    I appreciate the way in which America’s view of religious tolerance has evolved. The Pilgrims were not a tolerant people. Those first communities of New England that were established by Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson and others were because they were ousted from the going concerns. When the Founding Father’s wrote into the Constitution, “Congress shall make no laws…” it was because we were an intolerant nation and we still are. It was written into the Constitution to keep us from having to kowtow to the whims of King’s such as Henry VIII who demanded all of England change religions because the Pope would not grant him a divorce. So, tolerance based on intolerance. You noticed it yourself on Romney’s swing through the South. My take on China’s religious policies hit closer to the mark. There can be no organized religion. An individual can be any religion they choose, just don’t talk about it with anyone else. All of the other English teacher’s I was with were from BYU and the head of the Foreign Language Dept. warned us not to talk about Jesus during Christmas time. I assured them I was not a Christian and that I was going to talk about Santa Claus. The Chinese love this idea of Christmas because they are such gift givers. Whenever they visit another’s home, they bring a gift. The department stores are starting to fill their aisles with decorations at Christmas time. Only many of the decorations are masks of Santa, elves and reindeer, more resembling Halloween than Christmas. I loved it. Prove to me that there is a God and I will believe it. Prove to me that there is no god and I will believe that. And, while I’m waiting for that to happen, I’ll try to treat others with the love, respect and dignity we all deserve.

    • “Prove to me that there is a God and I will believe it. Prove to me that there is no god and I will believe that. And, while I’m waiting for that to happen, I’ll try to treat others with the love, respect and dignity we all deserve.”

      You will probably be waiting a while, because no one can agree. Waiting is not fun, especially if there’s a long line. Bring a good book to keep yourself amused. It’s better than trying to call Santa or God on a cell phone. I hear the roaming fees and reception are real bad if you try to call anywhere to or from the North Pole, or Heaven. It’s all password-protected. You just need to know the Secret Question, not the answer but the question. What was your first car? If you drive fast enough, you might be able to crash through the Pearly Gates.

      Julie

  5. For years, my Sunday morning bike ride was my “church”. For that matter, it was also my yoga. The privacy and separation allowed me to be very introspective and after 25 miles or so I was physically empty and spiritually full. So this blog post really preaches to the choir.

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