As current Voices of Faith participants prepare for the Easter and Passover seasons, we offer this column from March 19, 2011.
THE REV. HOLLY MCKISSICK: I talked (barely taking a breath in nine hours) to our van-driving youth minister as we made the journey home from our church mission trip. It was before seat belt laws, and I sat on an ice cooler crammed between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat in the old van.
I wasn’t naïve or overprotected, but I’d never seen folks that poor. In south Texas I had seen an old woman eating cat food and kids growing up without running water. I’ve spent the past three decades on that ice cooler, struggling for meaning, especially when life is tender and broken. I’m not alone. The search is universal and lifelong. You don’t leave it behind with adolescence.
After he survived Auschwitz and Dachau, Viktor Frankl wrote the profoundly powerful “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In a world of unimaginable brutality, Frankl witnessed starving people sharing their bread.
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He wrote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing … to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
We are meaning-seeking creatures. Hopefully, somewhere along the journey we figure out that meaning is not something we find, it’s something we create. The meaning you create and the contribution you make depend on how much time you spend sitting on the cooler and how much time you spend sharing your bread.
RABBI ROBERT L. TOBIN: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Being holy is not only possible, it is commanded. Your sacred task in life is to grow holiness into God’s world as surely as if it were a plant you were tasked to nurture.
We may feel overwhelmed, useless, ashamed or incompetent in any given moment — or even over some time in our lives. But the essence of why we exist never leaves us. We are created in God’s image to impact the world through our creations, our relationships and our love. God may be everywhere and nowhere, but you are here. Right here and right now, God and us? We need you.
Truth is irrelevant unless it translates to action. You must not only seek God, but let others find God through you. Faith alone does not lead to salvation. Action in faith, however, leads to redemption.
Holiness is a way of life. We become holy through what we eat and what holy days we observe. It is created in Sabbath rest, renewal and learning. It is spread in the world through justice for all people, and in private love.
And may you be wholehearted with the Lord our God, to walk in his ways and keep his commandments, even as now (I Kings 8:61).
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