Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Truth - and Reality

In the last day or so, two encounters made me pause and consider what I think of as my reality, the one I live in day to day.

Yesterday morning as I was going in to the office, a woman approached me asking about the food pantry that's recently been opened in our same building. I wasn't sure how to find it, so I accompanied her and we eventually found the right place to go and got her signed in. She was very worried that she'd arrive too late to get any food, as it's open only certain days until the food is all distributed; she had no food in her house, nothing, "not even a stick of candy." From her tone, expression and body language, I don't think she was exaggerating. In any case, the urgency and depth of her need was written on her whole person. While we were talking and looking for the correct entrance, I asked her where she'd walked there from, and she told me she'd walked from a certain street, which I know is about a mile away, and asked if the food pantry also gave out bus passes or if our legal clinic had any, so she wouldn't have to walk the mile back with the bags. They didn't, and we don't, so I gave her the $2 bus fare myself.

What else is there to do? - the universe put her directly in my path (or me in her path) and what is nothing to me made a significant difference to her, even just the very small act of helping her find the correct entrance so she could pick up a couple of bags of food. She wasn't angling for pity, or 'playing up' her situation, she was just telling me as it was. And that's what affected me so much.

I might not be enjoying the poverty-level-income aspect of my current situation, but my reality is that I am still in a position to help others whose situations are both truly ugly and not necessarily by their own choosing. And that the Universe expects me to remember that and act on it, that it is indeed foundational for being a decent human being.

The second encounter was quite brief. I was listening to two of my co-workers talking about church, and their faith, and one asked the other about how she came to be a Christian. It wasn't a dramatic Conversion Story, it was more about curiosity and inquiry and personal study. And then she said that the more she read about Christianity, the more truth (Truth) she found in it.

I left the room at that point to think about that statement.

In what book, or religion, or set of beliefs/concepts do *I* find 'more and more Truth?' IS there anything that fits that description?

I can list many places I do not find it. And I find pieces of Truth all over the place (or rather, what might be Truth: how can I tell except to ask my self whether I can deeply and honestly accept the offered concept, or not, and even then it's still subjective truth, not transcendent Truth). But I do not find that as I read the Qur'an nor the books of Muslim jurists and theologians that I find 'more and more Truth' there as my friend has with her Scripture.

Sometimes - but not often, and not for a while - I feel what I interpret as the presence of God in prayer or supplication. But I'm no closer to finding Truth - or really, all that much in the way of subjective truth - than I was at the beginning of my spiritual journeying. I 'knew' more when I started out than I do now, and I've been steadily losing what sense of certainty I had, for a couple of years. (It may be that Islam was an attempt at a spiritual stopgap, a way to try to recover what I'd already lost. I'll have to think about that.)

So, other than a heretic from two religions now, what does that make me?

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