The following also appears on the American Fork Citizen site, directly beneath the "From the Editor's Desk" column, and titled "The Last Word."
My book, to Mormons, with LOVE, continues to enable me to participate in many discussions. Topic specifics vary but conversation always centers on religious and cultural differences. People enjoy sharing their experiences and stories; and questioning me further about mine.
Often, I’m asked, “What do you believe?” Great.
When I was very young I asked my mother—a quasi-hippie—essentially the same question. “Do you believe in God?” Her answer was, “It’s not important what I believe. What’s important is what you believe.”
She wasn’t shirking her parental duties, or avoiding a question. She empowered me to think, feel, and pray for myself. My mother made it clear she respected whatever path I chose. There were also guiding words like, “All I know is that deep within myself, something speaks to me and helps me feel if a choice is good, or not good. Listen to that. Pay attention.”
Holy Spirit? Higher Self? Does it matter?
I’m a runner, although recently more of a hiker due to a neck injury. My running and hiking friends attend church on Sunday, so I embrace the time alone. My summer Sunday mornings are like the opening scene from Oklahoma. People walk to church, smile brightly and wave to me as I run by. The sky is blue, perfume and aftershave fill the air, and scriptures are reverently carried. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” plays in my head. I think it plays in everyone else’s head, too.
Winter is different. The skies are often grey; families are in cars, sometimes taking a corner on two wheels because they’re running late. (We’ve learned to avoid driving lessons for our student driver beginning five minutes before church starts through about 45 minutes after.) However, I still always get a smile and a wave, even if it’s a little rushed.
Recently, friends and I have been hiking near our home. Sundays, when I head up solo, I climb, talk to God, and give thanks. I’m thankful for a body that allows me to move, the deer that seem unbothered by my presence, and the overwhelming sense of peace that I feel. When I arrive at the top of the hill, I sometimes make small snow angels with my feet. I like to think there are angels and spirits all around me on that hill. Some familiar, most not, but I welcome them all.
I always pause to take in the view. I look at my town, knowing that in the churches I see (there are many), my friends, and people I don’t know, are worshipping. And praying. For me, for you, for themselves. And I graciously receive.
So, what do I believe? Not that it should matter, but I know most who ask that of others are purely curious. My path is fluid, and I’m comfortable with that. But…
…I believe in God. And, I believe that God believes in ALL of us.
Peace and blessings to you and yours.