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Change is in your Perspective

Seattle’s notorious rain soaked the region this week. It’s supposed to be spring, but freezing temperatures and snarled Eastbound I-90 traffic jams ground to a halt from mountain passes closed by snow has left even the hardiest Northwesterner wondering if we’ve been passed by. Spring, that is. So … what is one to do in times like these but … well … contemplate.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. They say that meditation is good for the soul, perhaps contemplation is as well. I’m not usually an overly introspective person but we’re living in times of change; culturally and economically. It seems that everything that once was … isn’t any longer.

In the computer world we have things called snippets. They are great little tools that help us re-create eye-catchy web phenomenon in mere seconds. I’m thinking tonight of a different kind of snippet. I’m remembering a snippet from a conversation that occurred many summers ago along a stretch of Cavanaugh Bay, Priest Lake, Idaho. A friend and I were walking to a nearby market along a dusty, gravely trail. It was hot … and it was quite. Unusual for us because while we didn’t get to see each other that often, she being from Los Angeles and I from Portland, we made up for it by many, many nights chatting until late. She said something that day that I’ve always remembered. She said that one of the things she loved most about Priest Lake was that it was the only place in her whole life that always stayed the same. A place where nothing ever changed.

Change has become the new buzz world in our society and our culture. Change is good, it is necessary, it is revolutionary. While I’m usually up for change, in fact crave it from time to time, I’m quite sure it isn’t the answer for everything all of the time.

The United States is certainly at a crossroad of cultural change. We all know it; we all have our opinions on what exactly that will look like for us and for the generations that follow. The social and environmental changes enacted now are fast-changing our lifestyles. In question now is the very fabric of personal and professional life as we and generations before us has known.

Faith. We all have a form of faith, whether we are devoutly for it or against it … we have a faith.

Do you believe as you once did? I ask myself the same question. My faith used to be so simple, so black and white. It was filled with hope surrounded by the sure sense that there were rights and wrongs; yes’s and no’s. And I knew exactly what they were. The teachings were literal although open to interpretation but comforting it its absolutes. While the faith of many has not waivered, I’m afraid our perspective has.

It seems the “change” phenomenon is now knocking at the doors of our houses of worship. What remains to be seen is how ultimately we respond and adapt. Do we bend and mold to fit the new societal norms or do we hold true to our historical tenets? And if we hold true, does that render us not relevant or are we a light shinning in murky waters? And who then will make these decisions … the pope or bishop or priest or pastor or rabbi?

Parents think about these things as we form answers to hundreds of question posed by our children every day. Our positions seem, somedays, to evolve from such conversations. Who we are and what we believe is most often defined by what we do rather than by what we say; to our children and also to our world.

We’ve all studied the Pilgrims of Colonial America or perhaps the Amish, which is a personal fascination to me. These sects of faithful are defined simply as a people set apart. They are immediately recognizable. We know that by their dress and their dwellings. We also know that by their simple faith and their cultural differences. Were there … or are there challenges with these chosen lifestyles? Is it always easy, in the case of the Amish, to live so differently than the vast majority of Americans? I would suspect not .

For people of faith … how are we culturally different from those around us who do not share our faith? Do we try so hard to be relevant that we water down, adapt … change … to the point where our faith then is so diminished that it is barely recognizable?

In the coming days … I truly believe that personally, if we fail to make a distinction, we are in danger of simply dissolving into nothingness. The heritage and sacrifice of people of faith will then only speak if dusty tombs of history are ever opened.

God is larger and more powerful than our will and our chosen lifestyles. And ultimately, I don’t believe he will ever abandon his people, but I do believe that generations can be passed by. What remains to be seen is what this generation chooses to do with its faith. Will we be passed by as spring has apparently done in Seattle? How will we respond to the “change” knocking at our doors? I wish I knew. I wish all people would make that choice to hold true to the tenets of their faith. One by one, family by family, until we pass on to the next generation a little of our soul, a little of our heritage, and be remembered by those around us as a loving people, set apart and convicted in our beliefs.

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