Monday, October 21, 2013

Saffron Cross: Reinventing the Wheel

My signed copy with a palm cross given to me by a
sweet friend and a favor from a Hindu wedding
I am so excited I got to see a blogger I've been following for some time now, yesterday at my church! Her name is J. Dana Trent and she recently wrote, and published through the Upper Room, a book about interfaith marriage, Saffron Cross. In it, she writes about her relationship with her husband, which is particularly interesting because she is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and he is a former Hindu monk and ordained Hindu priest! Their marriage is grounded in worshiping together, always.

Their personal story is as inspirational as their attitude about interfaith marriage: done well, being in interfaith relationships, whether with a spouse, friend, or co-worker, can enhance the connection you have with your own religious tradition, while strengthening kinship and community worldwide. We're talking global revolution! Just imagine what could happen if we all listened to each other and opened ourselves up to the idea that there is more than one path to God. 

But listening can be scary! Dana enthusiastically encouraged us sitting there to be brave enough to ask a person we know of a different faith about their faith journey, how they connect with the divine, and about their traditions. The goal is not to dilute one's own faith in finding universalities or to cause confusion, but that in hearing of another's devotion to God, we can be inspired to deepen our own devotion. One reason this occurs through interfaith conversations is because the hard questions are asked: what do you believe, why do you believe, and how do you practice this belief system? "How often do you contemplate these questions," she asked. Digging deep and spending time discerning the answers to these questions deepened and affirmed, strengthened and invigorated her Christian faith instead of challenging it. 

Some of the listeners pushed back. "What about the bible passages that say there is only one way to God, through Christ?" "What about those who will not acknowledge the bible as both a sacred and historical book?" Her and Fred's responses floored me. You could actually see in their faces and countenance just how many people they have encountered who feel exactly this closed off to forming interfaith relationships, how many times they have tried to explain the context of that exact passage in the book of John. But instead of being frustrated and exasperated by those who disagree with them, you could see just how much this couple loves them. They accept, with humility, that each person is on his or her own journey, that their devotion to their form of worship is valid and valued by God. And, with that quiet confidence only humility can afford, they are okay if others do not agree with their faith choices. Wow. 

Hearing Dana speak and reading Saffron Cross reminds me that my husband, son and I are not alone. There are other interfaith families out there reinventing this wheel who give us inspiration and guidance and with whom we can commiserate and grow in this multi-faith journey. I'm excited to see how her book adds to the conversation about interfaith relationships (and not just marital ones) and I hope you join me in reading her book!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It's become very real over the past 17 months, this interfaith/pluralfaith thing I've thought so long and hard about and talked so very much about. Since the birth of our son, I've been fearful of this public forum. Here is the test, the trial, the time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I confess I fear being judged now more than ever because now I'm involving an innocent. The choices we make about faith will now have a direct and real impact on the little person who has so recently joined our family. What if he feels torn, tugged, pulled, pressured to be something different when being different can be so very hard? What if he is confused? What if we fail?

Deep breath.

Yet, I trust that in community, whether virtual or actual, is the way to grow towards authentic engagement with God.

So I post this with trepidation and faith in hopes that you will continue with us on this crazy, mixed-up, messy, beautiful spiritual path.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Be someone you would love.

This took me totally off guard today.

When I am sleep deprived, I can become a very negative, judgmental, impatient person. I get sucked into conversations with imaginary versions of people I love in my head. I practice biting remarks, revisit old arguments improving my retorts, and make a laundry list of criticisms I could throw as daggers. I feel like a cornered mouse - defensive with few defenses. Considering my 8 month old is cutting 4 teeth right now, you can imagine that I've been in a pretty dark place.

Then God smacks me upside the head with a daisy - an offering of wisdom and perspective from an unlikely source.

My seventeen-year-old cousin came over the other night and noticed a DIY project we had recently completed and insisted I visit this blog she just read where the writers posted instructions for the same project. She was very excited and sent me the link. Today, I followed the link to a blog about indie-chic homemaking. I was expecting to find lots of projects and recipes to post on Pinterest, not wisdom.

Then, bam! I saw this:

2. Be someone you would love.
It is always easier to blame others. Always. What's hard is looking to yourself and realizing that maybe it's you who needs to change. Before you have amazing relationships you have to be someone you would love. Be the mother you would want. Be the girlfriend you would fall in love with. This is a lifelong process the important people in your life will help you with if you are open to it. Stop focusing on others' shortcomings so much and instead work on yourself. 

To do what Emma says is to cultivate the first attribute of loving kindness: seeing God in ourselves. Or as Rabbi Rami says, "Before we can behave in a holy manner... we first have to see ourselves as holy." (The Sacred Art of Loving Kindness, p. 8) In this way, too, we must first see ourselves as lovable so that we can love. 
This morning I prayed to let go of the negativity. Thank you, God, for answering prayers.