My dad is seventy years old. White hair, slow gait, lots of sighs and many stumbles as he goes. in. He still shares his staunch right wing politics beside his religious testimony any chance he can and this day was no exception. We spoke about the state of America, Roe V Wade, my kids, the weather, the quality of the food we ordered and a lot about Mom.
"She won't die." He said. "I gave her a blessing. God told me she won't die and I still have a strong belief, unshakable actually, that the church is true." He is LDS and raised us in the church, I have since left. "You know that too." he added. Gotta love someone telling you what you know, right? I let it slide. I let a lot slide, a lot was said about "the gays" as well as abortion rights that felt like a cheese grater across my heart.
"I did something I have never done before." He said walking in the the restaurant. His words harbored a hint of confusion, "I gave money to a begger." He sounded as if he was a bit disgusted in himself or feeling that he may be going senile, "All the money that I had!" He went on to explain that he has no clue if the guy was real or just a begger but the man had a long story of woe and he felt prompted to do so. In a voice of further disbelief, "I felt so good about that. I was so proud that I did that."
He didn't tell me why he felt this conflict with his pride but I have since speculated a bit.
In the LDS church, which he is very devoted, instructs its members do not give money to beggars, ever, instead you should donate that money to the church where they will teach that man to fish instead. And yet my father chose to give to this man. He listened to his inner feelings and chose to follow them instead of the church. That may be the first time that he has chosen himself first. This simple act of listening inward and honoring his own soul-fire awakened something in him.
I am so eager to see where this leads him. I expressed my pride in him for his charity. I told him that it made him happy as well as the soul he gave to and nothing more mattered. Not sure that my words meant much to him but his words truly touched my heart.
I am fairly agnostic so I truly don't know, and I have a fair amount of apathy in this arena so I don't really care but if there is a God/Christ ...
This journey inward, where tru self recognition, kindness and love can become corridors of empathy would be my definition of "the gospel". Learning to see, hear, respect and truly love and honor yourself. Lighting your own soul fire... thats inward first... leading to outward healing for all we touch. That would be my definition of "christlike" love.
Many times during my stay at the hospital with my mum my father mentioned at random moments that he, "Must be an idiot for doing that," chuckling and then almost in a mutter add, "I sure felt proud about that."
Maybe we know what to do better than we know.
Maybe it's all in our soul fire.