In my quest for an authentic faith which resounds and rolls around and echos within my soul, I often return to the New Testament parable found in Matthew chapter 25, which reads:
Then shall [they] answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
There are many places to get spirituality. There are many places to learn about God. But for me, time and time again, truereligion isn’t in a place, it is within people. It is in the smile of the silver-haired Walgreens clerk who says, “Gosh, I’ll miss you,” when I tell him we’re moving while paying for cough elixir and a box of Sour Patch Watermelon. It is in the willing voice of my Vanessa, who lingers over a phone conversation involving the singing of hymns and the eating of Girl Scout Cookies. It is in the message from my mom, “just checking in to see how this move is affecting you? We can’t WAIT to have you in Cali.” It is in the heart of Maggy. The passion of Benji. The lyricism of Kelle. The feverish sniffle of my little Alyssa who begs to be held while she fights off the flu. In the vulnerability of my sweet husband as he checks in for first day on the job. Go, babe, go.
My Eldon friend tells me it’s important to learn to trust our own instincts and insights. But for so long, I’ve doubted that gut I was given. Tried to fit another worldview inside my own. Tried to snip and choose only the realizations that fit within the dogma of my birth. And so, when it comes to professing this simple belief –that God is within people, I feel tiny and unsure. Like maybe I’m missing something. It couldn’t possibly be that easy. It couldn’t possibly be that joyful. Shouldn’t religion be hard? Couldn’t I be making this up like that one time I was sure Eric had a middle-school crush on me, but it was actually his bestie Dimitri? See. I overread into things sometimes.
Still, my soul is cheered when I realize that I’m not the first to happen upon such truths. Jesus himself said as much up there in Matthew 25. And the sanskrit language nailed it long before my birth in nineteen-seventy-blah-blah with the greeting “namaste,” which celebrates a bowing of one to another. The recognition of equality and service and sameness. I like the modern day interpretation even more, which tweaks the term to mean “The spirit in me respects the spirit in you,” or “the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you.”
The Reverend Tom Honey, a vicar in the Church of England also expressed his own understanding of this powerful message in his 2005 TED talk, God and the Tsunami, which to date is my favorite ever TED talk. Ever. Did I say ev.er? Ever. Namaste.
All of these things–Eldon, Jesus, Sanskrit, Reverend Honey–and a million other little evidences come together and confirm the sense that strikes my gut. The truth which sings in my soul. The fleshy goodness that is the life, the experience, the essence of another being. For I believe God is there, within people. Within us all. And we find him as we seek to see each other, to help each other, to hold each other gently in the arms of compassion.
“If you have done it unto the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.”
Giant-sized version of the above quote here which has inspired me all day to just love the crap out of this world. How’s abouts we do it together? Click, copy, and share. Then tell me about a person you saw today. And loved. And namaste’ed all over.