This I Believe

Jim - Petersburg, Alaska
Entered on February 7, 2007

THIS I BELIEVE:

It’s 3 a.m. and, for some unknown reason, my heart yearns to share its core, its fiber, its reason for beating. Its deepest roots lie in loving parents who, when I was 7, changed their lives. I knew this from the sustained joy in their faces; the new enthusiasm in their voices; and the peacefulness and excitement in their living. Something real was happening before my eyes, not just words. Over time and circumstances they explained their change and it left a deep impression: “Son,” they said, “after years of searching we have discovered what we feel is our purpose in life: that we are all members of the human family, equal in every way; that the universe was created out of love; that our Creator has taught all of us about living harmoniously through His prophets; that life is so much more than just this world we know; and, most important, when we act upon these beliefs the best we can we are in harmony with our Creator and His creation.”

What a bounty and a burden was this gift they lovingly shared with me! Each passing moment was a test of my parents’ discovery. But as life evolved my parents’ words and actions cemented my maturing heart and mind. Their discovery became my own. Critical moments in my life confirm my commitment that my belief embraces the world as best as my struggling self can: at age 10 I see the mother of my new Chinese friend deeply at prayer in front of their bedroom Buddhist shrine; at 12 an Iranian Baha’i’ speaks eloquently of being raised a Moslem; at 14 my parents are adopted by native Alaskan, Tlinget families; at 17 attending a youth conference where 2000 young people from every possible background come together and show a glimmering of what “could be” in the world; at 28 the birth of our first child confirms that creation is a act of love; at 38 we spend the best year of our life in Japan which is 98% Buddhist-Shinto.

The problems and pain of the “real” world make skeptics of all of us at times, and certainly have labeled myself and others as naive and foolish. Yet, after more than 45 years of personal struggle, my belief, so long ago passed on from parents to child, still is the measure to find “good” in the world and a sustaining commitment to make it a better place to find the love our Creator placed in all things. This I pass on to my children, future grandchildren, and others to consider. This I believe.