“We don’t believe we’ve got a monopoly on truth,” were the words that eased my dad’s welcome into a room full of Methodists. My father is the regional public affairs rep in his area, which means this wasn’t the first formal gathering where he has spoken to about us Mormons to those who are not. This particular group was a group of single adult Methodists aged 30-50ish. The goal of their study group was to learn about various religions, ways that other people understood God.
My dad’s utterance, was not the first time I’ve heard that phrase used. I just wish we confessed it more freely. And I am wishful for a Sunday School class that studies the world’s religions. Sigh. I just haven’t seen it offered in the 3 hour block just yet. I just wish it were. I have come to understand my own faith so much more fully as I have studied and observed other religions.
I felt that way in a chapel sparkling with stained glass sunlight where I watched a friend’s Copic (Egyptian Christian) wedding. It was a spiritual experience for me. The richness of the symbols in the ceremony connected with similar ideas in our own faith. And I marvelled at the parallel. I read about religious meditation and think I’m sorely in need of that mindfulness in my spiritual ponderings. A documentary about Mecca resonated in my soul as I saw the to the fervent devotion in the prayers always on the lips of the pilgrims. Today it was a Benedictine blessing shared by an acquaintance:
A Fourfold Benedictine Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
– Sister Ruth Fox, OSB
I was struck. Often we pray for nice things like peace, charity, kindness. This prayer by Sister Ruth Fox, a nun from the Sacred Heart Monestary, doesn’t. It embraces humanities commonly seen as weakness as appropriate and desirable for the right moments, and as signals to seek peace, exercise charity and share kindness. We don’t come from a tradition of scripted prayers, and so reading this one makes me stop and wonder about all of the prayers and meditation went into this one before Sister Ruth penned it. I add this prayer to my own.
I kind of like knowing that I don’t have to have at all from Mediterranean Place to Boardwalk. We all learn line by line, precept by precept. I am thankful for the many lines I do have, a gospel with so many more, and for the opportunity to borrow a few from others. Personally, I understand best as I learn about the world around me and relate and adapt it in my own life. Whether it is law of physics, a math principle, literary device or an additional meaning from another denomination, I want to seek out wisdom from the best of books. I love that our thirteenth article of faith ends on this line: If there is anything virtous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
How have you found truths elsewhere? What other principles have enriched your understanding?