Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Simple Conversation

The past few days have had many more interesting conversations, some of which I thought I might share here with you. Well, one, actually. It just went for a while.

On Saturday evening, we took my brother-in-law to the airport, and then went on to Marielle's work party. (That just sounds like an oxymoron.) Shoghi was with us, so I kind of took care of him while Marielle schmoozed. (I just love that word. It's a shame I don't get to use it more often.)

Oh, this was after I talked with a woman who is about to go to boot camp. Marielle had told her to phone us if she ever needed a shoulder to cry on, so she thought it would be good if I met her, too. That way she would know who she was talking with if I happened to be the one answering the phone.

Anyways, after this conversation, Shoghi and I went into the lounge to watch soccer. It's not that we said, "Hey, let's watch a soccer game" and then sought out the lounge. No. We went to the lounge, saw the game on the television and decided to watch it.

I went up to the bar to get a glass of juice and the bartender, Alejandro, asked me if Shoghi liked soccer. We talked for a few minutes when I asked him where he was from. "Chile." "Oh? Santiago?" "No, Concepcion." I mentioned that I was hoping to get to Chile in about 5 or 10 years. He said that he hoped I'd make it, and then asked me why.

"They're building a Baha'i Temple there, and I hope to visit it some day."

He apologized for his ignorance and said that he didn't know what Baha'i was. Instead of giving him my usual 30-second response, I said that it was my religion, and that we recognized that all the major religions come from the same God.

He smiled a wistful sort of smile at that, and said that he had no belief in any religion. "But I wish I did."

I asked him about his background and he said that he grew up Catholic, but after seeing the hypocrisy of many leaders of religion, he could no longer believe.

I nodded in sympathy, for this really does touch my heart. "In the Baha'i Writings," I said, "Baha'u'llah says that there is no greater oppression than that a soul would seek for truth and not know where to find it."

It was as if he had been thirsty and given a cup of fresh water. His expression said that this was exactly what he had been trying to say for years.

The conversation went on from there, as Shoghi glanced over, heard some of the conversation, and then went back to watching the game. I learned later that he had said a prayer for both of us.

During the few minutes we had together, he asked a number of very important questions, and I know that the Concourse on High was helping me, for simple responses came quickly and fluently.

He spoke about science and religion, and how he believed in science. "Me, too." Science, I explained, is how we begin to understand the physical world around us, and exert a degree of control over our environment. "But there is more to the world than the material. There is also the spiritual side, and since there is only one universe, the two cannot contradict each other." I used the example of science and religion being the two wings of the bird of human knowledge. Not only did he love the concept, but he immediately understood that you needed both wings to fly.

He also questioned the concept of a God who punishes us. As he had earlier mentioned that he has a daughter, 7, I spoke of my training of Shoghi. I said that the laws of God, to me, are not there to punish us if we break them, but are there to warn us. One rule that I have had for Shoghi since day 1 is to not touch the hot stove. This is a law in our house. If Shoghi were to violate that law, I would never think of punishing him for it. No. He will have already punished himself by burning his hand. The law is there because I love Shoghi, and am aware of the nature of both his hand and the hot stove. I know that if they touch, his hand will burn. This, I said, is how I understand the laws of God. They are there to warn us of the natural consequences that will occur if we violate them.

By the time we had to leave, Alejandro said that he was very grateful for the conversation. "We were meant to talk tonight." He said that he had never heard religious ideas expressed in this way before, and that it gave him hope of finding a faith again in his heart.

1 comment:

  1. THis conversation is the beginning of a Journey , Thanks for sharing.