I have long loved the poem by Emily Dickenson, Hope is a Thing With Feathers. The imagery of hope depicted as a sort of songbird, so fragile and small, yet capable of such power and peace. Recently, I have embarked on a journey to better know and understand the nature of perhaps the sister of the feathered hope, a creature nesting in the hearts of so many around the world, namely faith.
What is faith? Throughout this website, faith is used with two different meanings. One is the word faith as we use it to represent a people’s collective beliefs. It is often used interchangeably with religion. For example, the catholic faith. The other definition of faith has a much more personal and intimate meaning. In the christian bible the original Greek word for faith is pistus which I have come to understand as belief or trust. It serves as a link between the believer and the divine.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, strengthening my faith- this connection with God, is one of my greatest life’s work. I have found great personal power as I increase my trust in God and exercise faith in His plan for me. Recently, I have come to believe that while my LDS religion provides all the foundation for a healthy growing faith, that the study of the diverse religious traditions of others can serve as an excellent catalyst for my own faith and progression.
In our modern world, faith is often viewed as a weak motivation for behavior. After all, we can’t scientifically prove that there is a God or that we have received personal revelation guiding our actions. Those who chart their course based on heavenly guidance may be portrayed as blind followers or emotional rather than logical thinkers.
However, countless individuals still turn to the divine despite the increasingly secular world. These people of faith, regardless of what religion they adhere to should be seen as allies and brothers.
I have recently come to picture my religion as a beautiful flower and the world as a large meadow teaming with color and light. For a long time I have been content to walk through this meadow focusing ever so diligently on my one flower. This flower, my main source of faith, has brought me immeasurable joy and power to combat darkness in ways quite beyond words to express. Most of those with whom I associate share my love for this flower and also find it so fulfilling we find little need to look elsewhere.
But what of the rest of the meadow? Is there not beauty and strength to be gained from the other blossoms along the path? By loving my flower, must I disregard the other blooms fearing that by finding truth elsewhere my own flower would somehow fade in beauty?
I am excited to for this religious literacy program. I see it as a way to step out into the meadow and more fully appreciate faith in all its beauty and variety. The more blooms, the brighter the bouquet.