I’m not a big fan of country music, but every once in a while there is a beautiful piece that I could listen to again and again. This song is one of those.
Songs, for me, are stories. They have a theme, an idea, that the musician wanted to get across to their listener. Frankly, that’s the same thing that ANY form of creativity is to me. It doesn’t matter if it is film, fiction, music, dance, art or any other form of creativity you use to express yourself. Hell, if mathematics is your art – you’re still using it to express yourself (for someone like me, math isn’t art – but I know people for whom it not only an art form they use to express themselves, but a way to open their minds to everything the Universe has to offer).
The strange thing is, part of why this song hits me so hard is that the story it offers is one I strive for every day. And it sometimes becomes hard to understand. For some people, they see me as cynical, jaded or bitter – that I somehow always expect the worst from the rest of the world. Others see me as loving, compassionate, forgiving and kind, thinking that I am naive and will get hurt repeatedly by expecting the best from people.
The truth is, I’m both. There are things about my life that I am cynical and jaded about. Parts where it is hard to trust the kindness in someone else’s soul, simply because again and again that small glimmer of kindness and compassion is overwhelmed by greed, jealousy, manipulation and fear. But there are also times when the things I was taught as a child remind me that love and forgiveness has to start with giving people a chance to do the right thing. (if you care, one of the things that pop up for me is Martin Luther’s expansion on the 8th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.)
And if it seems strange to you that a Wiccan, a Pagan, should have a principle by which they live that comes from Christianity, let me remind you that you never completely turn your back on your past. And that includes the lessons about faith you were taught as a child.
In my therapy today, she asked me if I had felt “spiritually” or “religiously” abused. But, the piece that speaks the most is that all I was talking about was the fact that my parents (and my sister for that matter) have always striven to LIVE their faith. To them, it’s not something they just think about on Sunday morning as they sit through the church service. I too, do my best to live my faith – even though it is different from theirs – because that is how I was taught to experience faith, as a constant walk with the Divine. But that kind of devotion to ANY spirituality is seen as suspect by many people these days.
With all of the crap about how spiritual leaders use and abuse their followers, it’s not surprising to me that many people are mistrustful of living one’s faith. It’s because they were told that this abuser or that abuser was “living their faith.” Except, they aren’t – and never will.
Living one’s faith has external signs to it. In Christianity, this is called judging someone by their fruits. Their “fruits” essentially is judging others by what they do – humility and kindness, as in the song, are those fruits. Truly held compassion is shown in every move a person makes. And it doesn’t matter what spirituality one espouses – if you are truly living that spirituality, then that love shines through. If a leader is spouting hate, encouraging the damaging or destruction of those who do not belong to that faith – it is a sure sign that leader is NOT living his or her faith. If that leader is only using their followers as a cash cow, that’s NOT living their faith.
I may have bitterness inside me, but that’s NOT the fruit I want to develop. So, I will keep striving for that kindness, that compassion, that humility.