Put down the book

Friday, Mar. 20, 2015
Put down the book + Enlarge
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

The zeal for learning about the Lord has consumed me. I have a daily reflection and two Lenten reflections; I’m determined to make it through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation; and I’m reading The Power and the Glory for the Faith & Fiction Group. I strive to attend daily Mass at least twice a week, and I’ve been going to a weekly meditation group.  
I’m not cut out to be a zealot, though, because all my effort isn’t making me more holy, it’s  wearing me out. Worse, I feel like I’m just turning pages; most evenings I can’t even remember the meditation that I read in the morning. Still, I look at my reading list – the lives of the saints, the Church documents, various commentaries – and I feel so far behind that I don’t want to slow down. On the other hand, what does it benefit me to get very little out of the reading?
Then there are the various faith events that are available. Some of these fit into my job; others, like last week’s “Women of Faith Sharing Their Spiritual Journeys” event presented by the Family Federation for World Peace & Unification during Interfaith Season, I attend on my own time.
At that event, I felt a kinship with each woman as she spoke, even though every one of them has traveled a path different from my own. None is Catholic and some aren’t Christian, but the similarities among us far outweigh the differences. When the Rev. Dr. Carmela Javellana-Hirano, a minister’s assistant at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, said that service is the answer to God’s call, I immediately thought of the quote from Saint James, that faith without works is dead.
Virginia Hecker, a member of the Kol Ami Temple, said our purpose in life is to do good while we’re here, and to leave this world a better place than we found it. This is a creed I wish everyone would follow, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof; we all would benefit from it.
Maysa Kergaye said “people have all these assumptions” about her simply because of her appearance; like many Muslim women, she wears a head covering. 
Several of the other women echoed a similar sentiment, not because of the way they look but because they profess their faith. I can relate; in some circumstances, as soon as I mention I’m Catholic, I can see the judgment scales shifting in some people’s eyes. It would be nice if people would talk to me rather than assume they know what I think or how I feel about an issue, as Jenny Hale Pulsipher, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said.
I got so much reaffirmation from attending that event that I plan to keep an eye out for more chances to hear others tell their faith journeys. I enjoy listening to the joys, as well as the trials, that people have experienced as they search for God by whatever name they call him. None of us will ever be able to grasp the entire truth about him, but the parts we’ve all figured out on our separate paths reassure me that we’re headed in the right direction, while the truth that one of us has found on our own and shared can help bring the others that much farther along.
The “Women of Faith” event also reminded me how much I tend to rely on books for learning, forgetting that other people can teach me at least as much as words written on a page. I just need to take the time to hear them. Even if it does mean putting down a book.

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