Monday, December 12, 1988......
I believe that every human being carries the capability of both good and evil: Some people say that God gave us a choice in this matter; but I often wonder how much "circumstance" influences this.
I believe there are very basic rules of right and wrong: But should all the rules always be solid and completely unbendable? Some of them, yes-- the Ten Commandments, or at least most of them-- thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal...etc. Be good to people, don't hurt anyone. This is such basic decency. I don't know if the average person needs to belong to a conventional religious organization to know these things, or to believe them, or to obey them.
But what about some of the other rules, the ones which simply can't be cut so black and white? Fornication? There is such an enormous difference between blazon promiscuity and giving yourself to one person out of love. The first is so apparently wrong; how can the second be wrong too? I don't feel they are the same thing, so should the same rule apply?
It is a dilemma. It is confusing. There are definite needs in our society for rules of humanity and decency; but where should all the lines be drawn? It sounds so elementary sitting in catechism class at twelve years old. Everything is made so simple-- right or wrong, black or white. But life isn't like that. Life comes in shades of gray. You have to follow your heart in lots of places.
I believe in some sort of afterlife: Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm altogether right on this assumption, but I go on believing it anyway. Maybe this-- the hope of some sort of immortality is the basic reason for religion. We have to believe in "life after death" or "resurrection" or "reincarnation", otherwise the finality of death would make life almost unbearable.
At one time, Gramma told me that she didn't believe in the afterlife. She believed that when a person died, that was it. Death was the ultimate end. But during her final illness, faced with the reality of her own death, she grasped desperately at the hope of something (what?). She began taking communion, confession, took her rosary to the hospital with her. Her actions at that time were a kind of statement for everyone...faced with death, we clutch and grasp pathetically for life.
I don't believe you have to attend a formal church service to be a spiritual person: I find myself less spiritual in church. I have never cared for church services, yet I think of myself as a very spiritual person.
The summer D. and I met I went out to the farm one day. He was busy mowing, so I decided to take a walk up the big hill, behind the farm. It was a lovely day, sunny and warm, and a soft breeze.
I sat on the hilltop for a long time just thinking and looking at the scenery. I thought of so many things, too many to remember it all now. But one thing I shall never forget: absentmindedly, I plucked a small green weed at my feet. I held it up and looked at the root-- very long, but not straight. It was curved and bulging in different directions for it's entire length, curving here and there, and then swinging back to follow it's original path.
I realized that the root had adapted itself to grow around all the small pebbles that had blocked its path at various points.
We do that too, all our lives, just like the root of that little green weed. We must adapt ourselves to all the various changes and obstacles in life; but we must also keep on growing, adjusting our lives and swinging back to our original path, or a facsimile of it, seemingly unencumbered and unruffled by all the detours we had to make.
I sat on the hill that day and learned "adaptation".
Could I have learned a better lesson sitting in church?
God's churches and temples are not the buildings man has constructed of brick and stone and mortar. God's churches and temples are green fields, flowered meadows, lonely hilltops, rippling streams, and blue skies.