This I Believe

Paul - Bethesda, Maryland
Entered on March 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

In the multitude of miles I have crossed, the most simple thing sustains me: faith. I have faith in God’s infinite compassion and His will, and faith in the ability for His creations, mankind, to display the most wonderful compassion. I realize that my plans don’t matter. There is an old Russian proverb that states, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” This always feels relevant to travel plans. Yet the simple faith in God and faith in man helps the miles fade away with ease, as I feel the gentle hand of Providence leading me forward.

From the words of the Prophet Micah, “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with thy God.” I try to do the first in giving tzedakkah to those less fortunate than myself. I realize that my meager budget and modest resources are a small fortune to so many, so I try to feed as many as I am able. But in a page from Hindu karma, I know that it always comes back to me tenfold. I find myself treated to meals that far exceed what I spend feeding those less fortunate than I. Meanwhile, I do my utmost to help resolve old fights, breakdown old prejudices and work through the bitterness of enemies. I have seen the line where bitterness ends, and I try to share my experiences with those I meet.

I have learned so much about the nature of mankind in my travels. All of the gifts that have unexpectedly come my way, I chalk up to my faith in the goodness of God and man. The kindness and compassion shown by fellow travelers, hosts and the scores of people I have encountered on my way, leaves me always feeling blessed by the hand of God’s compassion. I find God’s craftwork in all His creations, in all of our varied forms, different tongues and distinctive faiths. In my travels, I have found a God that loves our differences, and hears prayers in all faiths and languages. I have found myself in numerous temples, mosques, shrines, pagodas and watts that are dedicated to faiths that are not my own; faiths I respect but to which I do not adhere. I see the beauty and gain from their knowledge, but feel closer to my own faith.

More times than I can count, I found myself in the midst of religious services of different faiths. Rather than shying away, I take part in the services, but with a mantra that is from my own faith. While mimicking the actions to show my respect for their faiths, I quietly recite the shema as a remainder of my own grounding in Judaism.

All the while, I have been touring beauties and wonders that could be nothing short of God’s handiwork. Seas of turquoise, white-sand beaches and huge cragged mountains, all of which bear His stamp; golden deserts, magnificent cities and rustic country sides that leave me humbled to the world He has created. I find God’s glory in the rising sun, and in His majesty it brilliantly sets. I shall continue my journey, telling the telling the tales of our people and wandering humbly through God’s dominion.