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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Dealing with the Islamic image today, part I

posted by Cheryl Petersen

The global trend of Islamophobia is not very pretty. I don’t want to wear it. I don’t want it in my house. I don’t want it in my consciousness, but hints of it float around in my head and I need to deal with it.

I decided that one way to deal with it was to get to know better those who study and practice Islam, the Muslims.

I have Muslim neighbors. They aren’t neighbors in the sense that I can speak to them over the fence. To reach these neighbors, a good fifteen-minute car drive is required, but after hearing so many crude remarks about those people with the “head gear,” I knew the drive would prove valuable.

It did.

The head gear is a scarf, a Hijab. A man’s hat is a Kufi.

I’ve had a past encounter with people who study and practice Islam. A few years ago, I visited Marrakech, Morocco. It was a week-long visit. Five times a day, prayers were amplified over loudspeakers. The Muslim people were intermixed with other ethnicities. Everyone was helpful, although their behaviors seemed intense.

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Today, it was time to get to know this culture, not as a tourist, but as a human being living on the same planet with them.

Where am I coming from? I’m a Christian. It’s the religion my parents knew and shared with me.

Granted, as an adult, I familiarized myself with the Koran, an English version, and the Prophet Mohammad. The Koran wasn’t that interesting to me. The language took twists and turns that I didn’t take the time to follow. It taught me that the language I used to explain my religion probably isn’t that interesting to others either, and doesn’t make a lot of sense to someone trained to think along a different word pattern.

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Three things I realized:

  1. Languages are relative. They hold no absolute meaning.
  2. Thought patterns vary, but that doesn’t mean they all patterns are destructive.
  3. I can’t just think I know someone or something. I have to understand.

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A recycler loves this Jingle Bells version

posted by Cheryl Petersen
Magic School Bus version of Jingle Bells:
Metal here, bottles there
Sort them in the bins
Broiler pans and soda cans
Just throw them all right in
Hey! Plastic jugs, margarine tubs
Pretty soon you’ll know
What goes into a magic bus
Ready? Here we go!
So melt that metal down
Pour it in the mold
Now we’re shaping something
New from something old. Ha ha ha!
Then we’ll melt some glass
Cause windows are a plus
When you want to re-create
Your favorite magic bus.
Oh, plastic now, this is how
We chop up what we choose
Melt it, cool it, now we’ve got
Some pellets we can use
Recycling’s fun, when we’re done
You’ll enjoy the view
Cause though it’s made from stuff that’s old
Our bus will be brand new!

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Not making unconditional love a farce

posted by Cheryl Petersen

My neighbor believes human beings only have two real desires. To love and to be loved.

“There is no fear in pure love,” he said. “It’s unconditional, but human beings are not capable of unconditional love.” He calls his ideal of pure love, God.

His statement that humans are incapable of unconditional love was interesting. It didn’t carry a negative connotation. He simply was pointing out that when people talk about “unconditional love” the talk can become blind and unrealistic. It can even set people up to become afraid of losing love.

He reasoned thus: Our human condition is conditional. Therefore, the love in it is conditional.

We mulled over an example. How do you love a drug addict? Do you give them the money to buy the drugs? The addict would love that. But drugs are self-destructive, even more, they destroy families. So, is it loving to lock up the addict so they can’t access drugs? You may be hated for it, but it seems more loving to save their life and protect others.

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We can still aim for unconditional love, but we can’t make the ideal of unconditional love a human ideology or goal. We can’t make a list of actions that show unconditional love. Love is fluid, eternal, ongoing. It can’t be circumscribed within human actions.

Fortunately, the ideal of unconditional love is possible to understand. Infinite love, emitting and absorbing love actually makes sense. We can choose to be a part of it for the sheer fact that love exists. But, we don’t need to beat ourselves up by telling ourselves to love more all the time.

When my husband saw me feeling sorry for myself, he suggested I get out and take a long walk. I didn’t want to. I even got upset because he didn’t even give me some sympathy. But, God loves me and I do love to walk. I responded to my husband’s suggestion with that in mind. During the walk, I was able to shake off the self-pity and get back into life.

 

 

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Growing up

posted by Cheryl Petersen

When in the second grade, my concept of family included me, Mom, Dad, two brothers, and one sister. At the end of the year, another sister entered the pictured. As I matured, so did my concept of family.

It reached out to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. After getting married, family blossomed.

My concept of family was very immature in my younger years. This is interesting.

I’ve concluded that my concept of this world and human existence is very immature. It keeps growing, therefore it isn’t complete.

I think what God created is complete, therefore I don’t believe God created what we know about this world and human existence. Because our knowledge is still incomplete.

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This conclusion is a relief in that I don’t have to wonder why would God create all the evil in this world? God didn’t create evil.

I don’t have to fret about taking this human body with me after death. God isn’t testing us and our bodies.

I will outgrow this worldly concept. It will continue to mature. It will be like God, Love, Truth, and Life.

hyacinth at nates school with pink small

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