This past summer (1982) the movie "E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial" was an immense box-office success. It was the story of an alien from outer space who was stranded on Earth after his space ship had to make a fast get away from pursuing earthlings. E.T. develops a friendship with a young boy and the movie captures the depth and warmth of their relationship. Unlike previous space aliens who destroy cities and disintegrate human beings, E.T. is a beloved friend. In moments of compassion, his heart would light up, an expression of the depth of his feeling and love.
Recently, singer Neil Diamond has picked up on the theme of E.T.'s "heart-light" with a song entitled "Turn On Your Heart-Light". The song encourages each of us to "turn on our heart lights" and this idea seems to say a great deal about the meaning of faith. Faith is, therefore, a turning on of our heart-lights, or actualizing and implementing the spiritual potential latent within us.
How is faith a "turning on of our heart light"? First, we have to get some idea of the meaning of faith.
To be sure, defining the meaining of faith is a tough order. It has been debated, even heatedly, by theologians and spiritual thinkers for centuries and the debate isn't over yet! If I were to give my definition of faith, I'd characterize it as the key which draws upon inner sources for peace, love, wholeness, and healing. Such a faith was demonstrated and taught by Jesus. He said that if you have faith you can move mountains. Not physical mountains, of course, but the hulking obstacles we face in life. With an affirmation of life's potential and possibility, with courage and vision, with openness to the presence of God in our lives, we can dissolve these obstacles from our paths. Frequently, Jesus is heard saying "O you of little faith"; for instance when his followers were unable to heal a strickened person, or were unable to give their faith practical expression. Faith must enable the best that is in us and create courage, confidence, and strength for living. It is that which brings us closer to God and the constant Divine presence. We need not ask that God be with us, for God is always with us and faith is an affirmation of this.
Faith is, in a very real sense, "turning on our heart light." It is affirming the presence of God in us. God is not out there in the cosmos, but has placed the Divine essence at the core of our life. Matthew 4:14-16 teaches several essential points about the presence of God in us. Jesus said we are "the light of the world." That is, we are capable, worthwile persons. He goes on to say let your light shine in each moment of life, to all persons, and be willing to live with vision, and to believe in hope. Further, he exhorts us to live our lives as a testimony of wholeness, peace, and love.
But how do we "let our light shine," or "turn on our heart light"?
First, we must realize the spiritual aspect or the presence of God--in us. We are body, mind,
but also spirit. We often don't understand or, are able to ennounciate, the spiritual yearnings. Thornton Wilder, in his play OUR TOWN, described the sense of the spiritual, the eternal, which we are all aware of. In the guise of the character the Stage Manager, he speaks for each of us; "Now, there are some things we all know, but we don't take 'em out and look at 'm very often. We all know that SOMETHING is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars....everybody knows in their bones that SOMETHING is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been teling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being."
The spiritual asppect of life is that which gives us the sense of meaning, hope and purpose. It is a source of inner strength, the "peace which passes all understanding." It reaches beyond here-and-now existence to see life as a totality, as its fullness. See from a spiritual perspective, life seems as a greater tapestry with numerous shades, colors, and events. Carole King described life as a "tapestry" that
"My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue. A wonderous woven magic in bits of blue and gold. A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold."
Life is a tapestry in its numerous aspects, but we learn to develop a perspective which imbues it with meaning and purpose, an expression of Divine Life. BR>Secondly, moments of prayer and silent meditation are essential. In such times, we commune with our God. Jesus frequently went apart and was alone. Going apart, finding time for prayer and meditation may be difficult when life is hectic. But God's presence and spirit are everywhere. We can celebrate God's presence in all moments, in all situations, as we work about the house, in the fields, in our shops, whever we are, in happiness and disappointments. We "have God" in all moments. The Hindu mystic Pharmahensa Yogananda wrote that the devotee does not ask, "When will I have God?" The devotee says "I have Him. He is listening to me; my Beloved is always with me. He is moving my hands; He is digesting my food; He is gazing at me through the stars."
We must be convinced in our own minds and spirits of God's presence with us. This is something we must do for ourselves, no one can do it for us. Faith comes through "hungering and thirsting after righteousness." We may be especially prone to prayer and seeking God when life is at its worst, yet finding God requires commitment. Faith can no more be a now-and-then matter than we can now-and-then seek physical nourishment. We can starve spiritually as we can physically. Spiritual starvation robs our zest and vigor for life. We must find and develop resources for strength, courage, confidence and an awareness of the meaning of God. In such a way, one embarks upon the path to spiritual growth.
We must be willing to "turn on our heart light" and be open to God in each moment of life, and see God as the source of strength, and hope. Acts 17:28 states, "in God we live, and move, and have our being." This verse must have personal significance. Jesus said "seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you" Therefore, in seeking God, and seeking God present in our lives, we will be able to trust life and attain fullfillment.
Each day we must seek the Kingdom of God-- personal and, in turn, social transformation-- in our own lives. We must find that, indeed, in in God we do live and move and have our being. May we see this as an affirmation of life's promise and potential wholeness..
If we seek proof of the harmony between religions, we need only look at Rev. Bjorling's article to see it. If we substitute the word Spirit for God, and the word Them for Him, then we have here basic Spiritist Teaching and basic understanding of Truth. There is harmony in all faiths, even when those faiths seem to differ.
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