El Camino de Santiago was the topic of the Martin Sheen-Emilio Estevez movie “The Way.” The shrine of Thomas Becket was the destination of the pilgrims in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”
These things, people dedicating themselves to traveling to a place, having spiritual experiences along the journey, are walks of faith.
But what has been my Faith Walk? It certainly has not had a distant geographical goal, but has been one of day-to-day living, trying to follow Judeo-Christian teachings, with the hope of being all that I can be, living in harmony with others and with the world.
It began with my family taking me to church for baptism when I was two weeks old. Someone else made the first steps for me. As I grew my parents taught me simple prayers about being grateful for food and asking God for an angel to walk beside me. Their example of love and generosity conveyed to me that this was a way of living that was proper.
There were sacraments, devotions like novenas and rosaries, Mass on Sunday and other days of a holy significance. I did not question except to worry if I was doing the right things.
There were other influences that I remember. Grandpa Riley never went to church in the years I knew him. But Sundays were celebrated as a special day. He would settle in his rocker and with the Methodist hymnal in hand sing the old hymns.
As a child in our parish choir I learned “Dies irae” and “Kyrie eleison.” From my mother’s father I learned “He Walks With Me (In The Garden)”: “And he walks with me and he talks with me.” The picture of a kindly Jesus strolling with me among the flowers was more comforting than foreign words learned by rote. This image was a step forward in my attitude of what faith meant.
In high school and college I took religion and philosophy classes, learned things about biblical writings that have been proven or disproved by scholars in the 50-plus years since. I had to think about what faith meant to me. Was it only externals or was it a way of thought that was a part of my being?
My attitude, approach to religion and ideas changed. But I continued to walk the walk, always learning, discerning, praying, belonging to communities of fellow Christians.
My husband and I made a best effort to raise our children with values we thought were necessary to follow the Jesus we knew. That meant more study of this observant Jew who taught from the Hebrew Bible that he had known from his childhood. Seeing our children make their own journeys has taken me further along mine.
Never do I walk alone on my faith path. Everyone who touches my life for good was and is a companion. Traveling as my own person I am accompanied by the love and concern of others.
My walk continues. Sifting ideas, accepting and rejecting religious belief, attempting to live as I believe the Christian ethic directs me are my constant journey, my Faith Walk.
Mary Danaher, one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.