Project Conversion

Project Conversion


The Name is Singh, Andrew Singh

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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! (Khalsa belongs to God. Victory belongs to God!)

Good morning and welcome to my first day as a Sikh. You’ll have to forgive the tardiness of this post because, as usual, I get virtually NO sleep the night before a new month and it takes me a little longer to get ready in the mornings now…

 

Yes, that’s a turban. It takes a while to master tying that bad boy on (I practiced for 5 hours yesterday), so no hating on the look. By month’s end, I’ll have it looking sharp!

I’ll get into why Sikhs wear the turban in our next post (The Five K’s), but first let’s get cozy with our new faith this month.

The word Sikh means “student” or “disciple” in the Punjabi language. Sikhism began in the Punjab region of Northeastern India with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 1469 and developed under the inspired guidance of 9 successive gurus. The last mortal guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, finalized the progression of these teachers in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Within is over 1400 pages of hymns that teach about the oneness of God (Waheguru), and provides direction for all human life. The Guru Granth Sahib is consider the living, eternal Guru, and is treated with the utmost respect.

A Sikh is anyone who professes belief in:

  1. The One, Immortal, Timeless God
  2. The Ten Gurus
  3. The Guru Granth Sahib (holy book)
  4. The teachings of the Gurus
  5. The baptism (Amrit) introduced by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and who owes allegiance to no other faith.

Pretty simple, right?

As for daily living, there are three commandments incumbent upon all Sikhs:

  1. Naam Japo: that is, meditation on God’s name at all times. This brings one closer to God consciousness.
  2. Kirat Karo: Earning a living through honest means. In other words, don’t be a leech on society or steal.
  3. Wand Chako: Share with others. This also includes selfless service to others.

More specifically, Sikhism is a work of social equality, and all Sikhs work toward the following ends:

  1. Belief in the brotherhood of mankind. In the eyes of God, we are all the same regardless of sex, age, race, national origin, religion, or any other distinction.
  2. Men and women are equal. Women can lead any religious service and share all social rights with men.
  3. Freedom of religion for all. Sikhs recognize that all paths can lead to God and therefore make no efforts to allure or convert others to the Sikh path.
  4. The right to bear arms and self defense.

The Sikh way teaches that God is ultimately beyond comprehension, imagination, or definition–and yet lives within every one of us–indeed, inside the very atoms of matter itself. My Mentor this month put it this way.

So, because God lives not someplace in the sky, but in all of Creation, He sees me when you look at me, and he sees you when I look at you.”

The philosophy of the Sikhs regarding Waheguru (God) can be summed up in the opening stanza of the Guru Granth Sahib, otherwise known at the “Mul Mantra”:

“There is One God,
The Supreme Truth, the Creator, Omnipresent
Without fear, without enmity,
a Timeless Reality, beyond birth of death
and self-existent.
Known by the Guru’s Grace”

These words are what start’s a Sikh’s day, and so for the next month, my day. Since every Sikh is called to remember God’s Name and meditate on Him, the Mul Mantra is memorized for this purpose. Every morning, Sikhs read the Jap Ji Sahib, a 38-verse composition which describes the nature of Waheguru, the purpose of eternal union with Him, and the uselessness of blind belief and rituals. Apart from that and a few prayers one says in the evening and before bed, a Sikh’s life is one of justice, equality, and remembrance of God.

I’ve long had a facination with the Sikhs. Thier “warrior-saint” status and history is very appealing, at least as far as I’ve looked into it. Living in the South, I can tell you now that this turban is going to turn some heads. I’ve never seen anyone here wear one. The fact that we are approaching the 10th anniversary of September 11th doesn’t help, as Sikhs were murdered in this country, mistaken for Muslims, after the attacks.

Can I handle the pressure? What sort of reception will I get from my neighbors? Will they ask questions (which is good!) or stare with ignorant fear? This should be an interesting month for sure…



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abowen

posted September 30, 2011 at 8:45 am


jagdeep,

I suppose in a way, many of us are being Sikhs then without even knowing it! Thanks for the compliment : )



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jagdeep singh

posted September 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm


Wonderful blog Andrew singh – excellent read, the month ends today and you will exit sikh swaroop – but remain a ‘disciple’ at heart and keep learning – Guru Granth Sahib
As you know we dont believe in conversion , we believe Sikhi is a state of elevated conscience ….. btw you look very dashing in the pic with kripan in your hand



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abowen

posted September 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm


Gupt Singh,

Hello! My Mentor gave this text to me. It contains an introduction to the Sikh Faith as well as an explaination of the Japji Sahib. The book was printed by the Sikh Cultural and Educational Society of Western New York. The author is Kirpal Singh.

I hope this helps!

Sat sri akaal!



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GuptSingh

posted September 26, 2011 at 2:36 am


Where did you get the prayer book? What is the name of it, publisher, etc.



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abowen

posted September 19, 2011 at 11:14 am


Sandeep,

Thanks!



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Sandeep Bajwa

posted September 18, 2011 at 11:52 am


Good job!! keep it up!! May waheguru give you more power to help people learn about Sikhi.

Nanak Naam Chardhi Kala
Tere Bhaena Sarbatt da Bhala

“who believe in Nanak are always for Positive attitude”

“As Guru Nanak wished welfare for everybody”

Nanak = Guru Nanak Dev.
Naam = name
chardhi = going up
kala = attitude/energy
tere = your
bhaena = job/work/duty
Sarbatt = Everybody
da Bhala = for welfare



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abowen

posted September 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm


Navdeep,

Thank you for reading! I certainly hope you will eventually wear the Five K’s, but of course that is up to you and in accord with your own conviction. I am indeed wearing all Five K’s, including kesh where I do not cut hair or beard. My beard is now 16 days old. Pictures forthcoming.

Peace,



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Navdeep Kaur

posted September 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm


Andrew,
Its great to see your interest into Sikhi with Waheguru’s kirpa (grace). I’ve always been religious but never before have I felt about Waheguru since the past 4 months. Hopefully soon, I will be wearing a dastar and having Guru Jis kirpa on me. One thing I do want yo say to you is that while having the turban on, start growing out your beard also. Otherwise I do respect ones choice of how to look.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.



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abowen

posted September 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm


S Singh,

Sat Sri Akal!

Welcome to the Congregation! Thanks for reading and for staying with us this month.



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SSingh

posted September 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm


Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh

What an inspiring journey you are going on! Will be following you for the month – look forward to your experiences as a Sikh :D



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abowen

posted September 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm


Kulwant,

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog! I am only trying to help where I can, brother. I hope to hear more from you this year!



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Kulwant Singh

posted September 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm


Hello Andrew,

How refreshing to stumble across your blog. You truly are a shining example of what this world needs right now.

If only more people were prepared to put in even a tenth as much effort as you are to “put themselves in other people’s shoes” as it were, there surely would be a lot less mistrust and animosity in this world.

Rock on brother!

PS Your explanation of Sikh beliefs is exemplary.



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abowen

posted September 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm


Ranbir,

Bless you for contacting me. Indeed, there are times on this journey when I feel alone because members of the faithful are not around. But then I remember folks like you and others who visit me every day!



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Ranbir Singh

posted September 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm


waheguru ji ka khalsa
waheguru ji ki fateh
i stumbled on ur link, and i`m glad i did.i have only one thing to say to you piyare veer(lovly brother),at time you will ur self alone on this path…as you will go deeper and deeper into sikhism, u will understand why this is happening,,,cuz as guru sahib say a lot longs for waheguru but a very few of the few finds him.



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abowen

posted September 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm


Jasbeer,

Thank you for the welcome. I’m doing my best, but cannot promise I won’t slip from time to time. I think you used the best word when you said “effort.”



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Jasbeer Singh

posted September 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm


While most people calling themselves ‘Sikhs’ were born into it and since they did’t have to make any effort to understand what being a Sikh means, most, overwhelming majority of us, don’t.
The future of Sikhism / Sikh religion or belief depends on people who will make efforts to understand and practise this way of life.
Thanks for choosing to do so and welcome to the new-age, informed and aware Sikh community.



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abowen

posted September 3, 2011 at 10:19 am


DP Singh,

I will do my best by your faith. Thank you for reading!



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dp singh

posted September 3, 2011 at 9:47 am


dear andrew…you got a pure soul and pure soul always know what the truth is.you just pased by the truth in one month and you became so pure but when you will stay under the truth for your whole life you will definitly become a saint,a saint who is always a fearless warrior too..you tried sikhism means you tried the truth,you tried the humanity and you tried the love…i thank you for your effort….



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abowen

posted September 3, 2011 at 9:00 am


Ishna,

I will do my very best!



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Ishna

posted September 3, 2011 at 8:18 am


Sat Sri Akal Andrew Ji!

Thank you for including Sikhi amongst the religions of your 12 month project! Awareness about Sikhi need to be raised around the world and this is a great way of doing so. You’re off to a great start.

I hope you enjoy your month as a Sikh!

Gurfateh
Ishna



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 10:39 am


Guri,

I centainly try. Thank you for reading!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 10:38 am


Gurpreet,

I have no doubt about it ; )



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 10:38 am


Mickey,

Very kind of you. Thanks!



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Guri Singh

posted September 2, 2011 at 10:22 am


Satnam Jio,

I do appreciate what you are doing. I am not too worried that you are doing this only for a month. You are learning more about our Sikh religion than most will know in their life time.

May WaheGuru guide you through this journey. I hope you will take away a bunch and become a better human.

Chardi Kala,
Guri Singh



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Gurpreet

posted September 2, 2011 at 3:10 am


You sure gonna fall inlove with Sikhism and a month is going to pass you wanting to learn(sikh) more… All the best..great effort.. Waheguru :)



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mickey

posted September 2, 2011 at 2:18 am


I can say only one thing to you ,wahe guru ji ka khalsa ,wahe ji ki fateh.I hope you have a safe journey my friend,whenever you in new york ,you are always welcome to my house.



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:31 am


Jamila,

The pleasure is mine!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:31 am


Talveen,

I always love hearing about others taking on such a similar journey. The awesome thing is that you found a home and now, you are that much more confident in your faith. That’s so sad about your treatment from other Sikhs, I honestly didn’t see that coming. I like to feature convert stories on the site from time to time. If you’re comfortable sharing, we’d love to hear from you!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:28 am


Kiran,

Thanks!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:28 am


Yudhvir,

That’s a great way to live.



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:28 am


EmiG,

Yeah, some of the comments automatically “approve” when I read them from my phone. Sorry for the mix-up!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:27 am


Isa,

There are some similarities, but each month is so radically different. That’s why I usually don’t sleep much for the first week of each month ; )



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:26 am


Sumi,

Thank you for the welcome!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:26 am


Mandeep,

Thank you for the welcome! That is a great site. I’ll be sure to bookmark it right away!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:25 am


Shanu,

Guts? Haha Only on the internet ; ) Thanks for reaching out!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:24 am


Skaur3,

Thanks! Hope you’ll stick around.



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:24 am


Jivan,

Southeastern NC



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:23 am


RK,

Thanks for reading along, Sikh of the South ; )



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:23 am


Lovepreet,

You kidding? They all fit me!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:22 am


Jasleen,

Why thank you, ma’am. I think you’re right. Stares are okay, and hopefully honest questions come out of it.



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:21 am


B,

Ah yeah!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:21 am


Justasikh,

That’s probably the most humbling statement I’ve heard this year. No pressure, right?! ; )



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:20 am


Maple Leaf Sikh,

Thanks! Yes, I met my Mentor this month at his gurdwara. Sad thing is that it’s over two hours away. I hope to make at least one service to be among the faithful. Gets lonely otherwise…



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:19 am


Singh,

That’s going in my journal. Thanks!



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abowen

posted September 2, 2011 at 1:18 am


Arden,

I know right!? I am blessed with awesome Mentors.



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jamila

posted September 2, 2011 at 12:53 am


what a cool project, thank you for raising awareness about different faiths and walks of life. thank you! sat nam



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Talveen Kaur

posted September 2, 2011 at 12:21 am


Jo Bole so Nehal! Sat Sri Akal!
Your story is very similar to the journey I took through faiths, only it took me several years. Cheers to you for keeping track of everything and how you feel about it and how it is changing you. On hindsight, I should have done that. It’s an amazing journey. I studied and lived many faiths and was drawn to Sikhi :-) I have been a Sikh now for almost a year and it’s lovely. For me, it has been very difficult being a Gori (white) Sikh, because even though Sikhi teaches that everyone is equal and to never look down upon anyone, I have, many, many times been shunned by members of the Sikh community for the color of my skin. I even get hate mail occasionally; and not from outsiders mistaking me for a terrorist, but from Sikhs. It’s odd. But, I keep on, because the Gurus speak to me like no other faith has. I find I am a much more loving, calm and centered person than I ever was. The Sikhs who accept you will accept you with their whole heart and soul. It’s amazing. Just like I found in Islam, there is so much love and giving in the community. I love my new friends and I love my new faith. I hope that you will find love here as well. Welcome. Talveen Kaur



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Kiran Kaur

posted September 2, 2011 at 12:09 am


Andrew veer ji, Sat Sri Akal! Best wishes for your journey in the Sikh faith!



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Yudhvir Singh

posted September 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm


Seems you have a strong will. We strive for inner happiness and laugh a lot.



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EmiG

posted September 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm


Minor logistical website question… In the comments section it says there are 15 comments, but only two (from Editor B and Isa) are showing up. Where’d the other 13 go???



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Isa

posted September 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm


I have always wanted to learn more about the Sikh Faith. Now I get to do it vicariously through you! It also seems like a smooth transition from “Islam month” because the two faiths look similar to each other.



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Sumi Kaur

posted September 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm


Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

Andrew Singh – Congratulations on accepting Sikhism as your faith; beleive me, you’re in for ultimate spirituality on this path. Waheguru Ji blesses you and will always do. Your article is a very clear explanation of Sikhism in simple words, thank you for posting it. Your turban looks great – good job. Guru Fateh.



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Mandeep

posted September 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm


Congratulations and Welcome to 1 month life style as a sikh. I hope you get to experience it the most and learn something about Sikhs and their life style. Just wanted to share a website with you http://www.sikhnet.com You will find it very helpful and dont forget to check out their inpirational vidoes section, i’m sure you will find it helpful and inspiring and give you the hint of Our guru’s though in creation of this life style. Guru Ang Sang.

WJKK WJKF.



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Shanu Kaur

posted September 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm


and your turban looks great dont worry!



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Shanu Kaur

posted September 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm


Holy crap, you got some guts on you mate! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help (as an amritdhari sikh myself)

Good luck!



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skaur3

posted September 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm


Discovered your blog through mr.sikhnet’s twitter post. Interesting stuff!



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Jivan Achreja

posted September 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm


Where in the south are you?



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RK

posted September 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm


This is so great! I’m Sikh, a woman, and from the South as well; heads definitely turn! loving this whole project, can’t wait to read more!



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Lovepreet Singh

posted September 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm


Good Luck Bro. Hope you find the path that suits you best!



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jasleen kaur

posted September 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm


Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!

I must say, choosing this month to wear a turban takes guts! I hope you find it an enlightening experience. When I started wearing a turban I also lived in the south. People will often stop and stare, but they’re usually nice about it if given the chance to talk. That whole southern manners thing usually takes over the curiosity at some point. Good luck on your month as a Sikh!



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Editor B

posted September 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm


OK, I think this month’s gonna be a trip, because as little as I know about some of these other religions, I know even less about Sikhism. Let the learn-a-thon commence.



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Justasikh

posted September 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm


I think you just explained more about Sikhs, to more non-Sikhs, about the Sikh way of life, than anything in the last 100 years of Sikhs living in North America.

I appreciate the care you have taken in writing so thoughtfully and detailed not just this article, but in your other months.

Thanks for keeping goodness and kindness fashionable, and helping to spread service and compassion towards all of humanity.

If the concept of God/Creator was water, the worst of religion is when they fight over what to call water in a specific language. The best of religion and our spirituality is when we see the oneness in ourselves first, and through it realize that we’re all the same energy in the same cells making up the same bodies.



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Maple Leaf Sikh

posted September 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm


Looks like your well on your way to a great month. Please post any questions you have on Sikhism and I’m sure you’ll get lots of answers (feel free to email me directly too or check out my site). Make sure to check out a Sikh house of worship (gurdwara). Great turban (dastaar) for a first timer!



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Singh

posted September 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm


“If you don’t see God in ALL,you don’t see God at all!” – A Sikh Saying.
Best of journey on this path my brother.



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Arden

posted September 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm


“So, because God lives not someplace in the sky, but in all of Creation, He sees me when you look at me, and he sees you when I look at you.”

What a beautifully expressed idea! Your mentor has a way with words.



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