Sunday, September 2, 2012

This I Believe

(Last week, the Mormon Women blog published my testimony, my thoughts on God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can read that here, if you want. Today, my essay is different, more on the lines of the "This I Believe" movement, spearheaded by NPR and based on a 1950s radio show of the same name that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow.)

I should state up front that I believe in God. Moreover, I’m a Christian. And I try to be a pretty obedient Christian. With a lot of commandments available for keeping or breaking, sometimes a person can get a little overwhelmed. When I need a dose of simplicity, I look to the first commandments from God and the ones He said He thought were the most important. I think of God telling Adam and Eve in the garden to raise children and take good care of the earth. It probably sounded easy then, with flowers all around and no crying children or rebellious teenagers. Later on, in the confusion of opinions in Jerusalem, the Savior's commandments to love God and love other people may have given folks a little more pause to reflect. Still, I think those few guiding principles can lead to a good life, and I try to follow them with more or less success from day to day. Do things that would please God. Love other people, without regard for their color or nationality, their economic status or philosophical preference, the style of their clothes or their ability to conform to social norms. Treat the environment with respect. Raise my children to seek beyond themselves and make the world a better place.

For me, beauty plays an essential role in that process. I seek for beauty in nature, in art, in people, in life experience. I believe I have both the ability and the responsibility to create, discover and share beauty in its many forms.

One hundred years ago, Raymond Macdonald Alden (most famously known for his story “Why the Chimes Rang”) wrote a story about a marvelous palace built by the combined music of an accidental orchestra of musicians. I believe in music and its power to create palaces in our souls and bridge the gaps that separate us from others. That music can take many forms and still reach the soul in vital ways—from professional chamber music, to the aching notes of soul or country, to an amateur musician with just the right inspiration or just the right occasion. I hear music in the melody of a life well lived and in the jubilation of a challenge met and conquered. I love the story of the palace built by music, and I love that the musicians had to combine their notes together for the creation to commence. It feels so true and so possible.

I believe that we cannot live life fully as hermits, that human relationships are an integral part of our development and the richness of our lives. I believe that serving others leads us to the discovery of ourselves and is essential if we want to explore the boundaries of our potential as individuals and as a society.

I believe that each of us is, at the core, essentially spiritual, and that our spiritual core at some point begins to yearn for its source of light. If we ignore that need, we risk destabilizing ourselves. The quest for the source of light and for an understanding of our relationship to that light can define our life in wonderful ways, even though at times the journey can prove unsettling. As a parent, I believe I have the responsibility to give my children the tools they need for their own spiritual quest: an understanding of the language of the spirit, a desire to seek, and a solid base from which to start. We need to believe. It gives us root.

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