I have been struggling all week with this credo. My first effort read like an essay about my summer vacation so I threw that out. I finally committed some thoughts to paper and decided to leave it at that.
Then last night I talked with the husband of a dear friend who has been sent home to die. Her friends and family at home now surround her as her daughter said “wrapped in a circle of love and security.” That conversation made me realize that my credo is really very simple. Surround yourself in a circle of security and love. For many people and for me much of my life, a big part of that security and love was God.
I’m not sure anymore about God, but I am sure that when I believe it God, it is the kind loving and all forgiving God I was raised to believe in. I’m not sure about an afterlife, but as Iris Diment says, I choose to let the mystery be.
What matters to me is relationships, a community of kind, a sense of belonging.
I do believe that we are all connected, and that the life we make for one another is the life we make for ourselves. The global connection is important and yet for me and I suspect for most of us it is the personal connection that so enriches us. Marriage has provided me with a relationship from which I have drawn great strength and through which I have grown. Raising children has taught me that each person is indeed unique and more importantly has taught me what unconditional love really is. Every friend adds something so important to my life, each encounter with a student enhances my understanding and empathy, each challenge to my beliefs strengthens me and expands my thinking. Friends all touch me and leave their unique stamp on my life. I have learned so very much from those connections.
Albert Schweitzer said it well:
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
That is what relationships do.
When I went to see the Gees Bend Quilts, there was a video and in it an old woman describing her quilt. She had made it from her husband’s clothes after he died so that she could wrap up in the love
the circle of love and security.
My relationship with religion has changed a great deal over the course of my life. I am no longer a Christian, but a religious community is a big part of connectedness.
I still pray. Not the way I did when I was little, not a recitation of memorized words- but as reflection, as renewal, as a means to comfort myself, to find the words to comfort others, to find the courage to confront myself and the strength to face the challenges put before me to keep intact the circle of love and security.
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