I've had lots of little things swimming around in my mind lately. Each one deserves its own treatment, commentary and post, but I'm just too exhausted to start, and more than likely these little sparks will flicker out into the abyss of my terrible memory before I ever get around to it. So this is simply a collection of some of those thoughts.
A conversation I heard about money and charity posed the question "is it a sin to be rich?" Stemming from the story in the New Testament about the rich man told to give away all his possessions that he may inherit the Kingdom of God, it is an interesting thought. My instinct is, it can't be a sin to be rich, because there are so many charities doing so much good in the world, and they need their funds to come from somewhere. A selfish person may only spend money on themselves, living in million dollar homes and splurging on toys and vacations, spending outrageous amounts of money on things like shampoo and hand soap. We need good-hearted people to be rich, that they might help those who truly need it.
This is the answer given in the conversation: "It is not a sin to be rich, but it is a sin to die rich." That struck me to the core. What would be the use of hoarding all my money my whole life, never spreading it around to those in need, and to those I love?
I am just finishing a paper-weight of a book about the legend of King Authur. Meticulously researched, I have been mesmerized by a look into the complete turn to Christianity in the British Isles. The book chronicles the "pagan" beliefs, and I love learning and discovering and finding understanding in other belief systems outside of my own. Even a Christian today would eschew the idea of pagan rituals, mostly because of what is the common understanding of them. But I was amazed to find that the pagan beliefs in their original form were much closer to current Christianity today than one might think. (Most notably a reverence of the earth created for us, tolerance of other people's beliefs, a deep level of spirituality and communion with God, and an understanding that although some of the mysteries of God are given to us to know, they must be learned step by step, precept by precept, and still will never be completely understood or explained.) Yes, there were many rituals and practices that did not jive with the practice of Christianity in that time period (ie: chastity and purity), but in the end I have discovered a kinship previously unimagined.
It has spurred on my interest to study the religions and beliefs throughout history. I have a feeling that when studied side by side, there would be recurring truths among them all that would give us a real sense of what truth was in the beginning of man's existence.
I have always been a seeker of knowledge. Critical thinking is simply a part of my makeup, which has never let me simply believe something because someone else said so. I always challenge ideas - my own included - to really question what I am accepting.
I think mankind has the inherent desire to constantly learn more, also. We want to go to the moon, then Mars, then...then...then... There is never a contentment with what we know - we always need to learn more.
This, then, poses a problem when it comes to faith and religion. By it's very definition, faith is a belief in something that cannot be seen or proven. You just have to take the leap. And so how can a species inherently curious ever be content with faith?
I have felt a surrender within myself over the past few months. With so many unanswered questions, and so many partial answers, it seemed like each answer only led to more questions. Each argument, each belief, each idea, could be just as equally and firmly proved as unproved. Man's knowledge seemed to be failing me.
But I heard these beautiful lyrics by Hilary Weeks, and suddenly felt the calm and peace I was searching for. The entire song is beautiful but it was this chorus that particularly struck me:
We are reaching for the future
We are reaching for the past
And no matter what we have we reach for more
We are desperate to discover
What is just beyond our grasp
Maybe that's what heaven is for
I am finally discovering in myself the ability to find peace that I will not, I cannot, learn it all here and now, but that there will come a day when heaven's gates are opened and, no longer imprisoned by a finite mind, I may come to understand eternal and infinite ideas.