Consecutive Days Riding: 43 Consecutive Days Blogging: 44
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 365
Riding the bike today I struggle to choose a Blog topic. I am reminded of a time with my two sons. We were wading along, knee deep in the water of a slow moving mountain creek. We spoke little as each lost himself in the exploration of the water and the shoreline. Suddenly, my oldest son began to splash about, slapping the water in a vain attempt to catch one of the small, black water bugs that darted about the streams surface. They were too elusive. He would focus on one, miss his mark and then another would come along. It made for a humorous display as his efforts came up empty. I am reminded of those efforts as I struggle to find a Blog topic. Each time I think I’ve captured one, I open my fingers and it’s gone! Then I see another idea out of the corner of my eye.
When this kind of frustration happens with a client, student or friend I always tell them to step back and look at “the bigger picture.” When I do this I realize that among the swirl of topics are patterns. Many of the topics are cued by ongoing world events, conflicts of a religious and/or political nature. Some topics involve situations of personal relevance arising from my interactions with colleagues, family and friends. Other topics involve my professional responsibilities as a teacher and a scientist. When I step back from the swirl of darting ideas, I see unifying topics. The question is where do I focus my attention, my questions, my explanation and answers? When talking about spirituality and religion, one can focus on the forms (content) of these beliefs. These varied forms include types of prayers, conceptualizations of God and the divine, religious ritual expressions and symbols, to name only a few. One might also focus attention on the function (process) of religious and spiritual belief systems.
Belief systems can appear very different in form and content while serving the same personal and group function and process, providing a sense of security, group cohesion during adversity and shared meaning. There are those who ask the questions: What is the true name of God? What is the proper way to pray? Which are the valid sacred scriptures? They seek the proper form.
I personally marvel at the diversity of religious beliefs in form and content. I am dazzled by the colorful and mysterious displays of dancing and chanting, colorful vestments, burial ceremonies and symbols of ancient times. Like walking through a garden, the last thing I would wish is to have all the flowers the same, all the trees bare the same colored leafs or pathways of only one type of stone. Those who seek to plant only one flower in our shared human garden, to eradicate all others by labeling them as weeds or intrusive foreign invaders, set themselves and all humanity upon a path of conflict and self-righteousness. I will not engage you in an argument of which belief system has the true or proper form, but I will engage in a discussion of how belief systems may function against a unification of our human endeavors to grow, cooperate and survive!
If I may return for a moment to the story of my son and the water bugs. After several failed attempts and a growing frustration, the capture attempts ceased. My youngest son moved over from the shoreline and joined us. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Trying to catch a water bug, it’s impossible!” exclaimed my oldest son. The youngest looked down as he noticing for the first time the insects boaters, his arm darted forward barely disturbing the surface. “You mean one of these!” he opened his hand to reveal a water bug paddling about in his palm! Sometimes a clear mind and simple focus yields the rewards we seek.
A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.