Words to raise the dead

When I was younger I was fascinated by the Jewish legend and lore of the Golem. A monster made of the dirt who would come to life when molded by a Rabbi, and when truth/emet was inscribed upon it it came to life, when the “e” was removed death/met terminated the Golem.
A protector of the Jewish people when there were problems; pogroms, antisemitic attacks, and the like.

Given that with what little I know about my Jewish heritage, there were matchmakers and Rabbi’s in my family, so it would have been the latter that took the dirt and inscribed the emet and when the time came met would have occurred…

With that being said, despite centuries and cultures apart, I too raise the dead with my words!

No, I don’t take the soil in my hands and inscribe emet into it, but I do speak words of encouragement, comfort, and life over and into others.

Last week one of my students was in an emotional rut. She had a difficult day, it was known by all, but given some factors in her life it didn’t sink in until much later in the day. When it did, she was moping about and frustrated with herself for the choices she made for herself. Because I don’t work with her all that often, and I’m not in her classroom so I only see her when she goes back to her unit. It was there I saw her in a very despondent state of being, it was there I spoke life into her;

“This is a temporary setback, this doesn’t define you nor does this define your future.”

The light returned to her eyes, hope set back in, and she whispered a “thank you” to me.

***

That’s all it took for my student, and so often it is the case with most people who need words to raise them from their suffering or their metaphorical death. Yet I propose that within speaking life into others, sincerity is key; yes, sometimes the outcome might very well be bleak, and literal physical death could be on the horizon, but there is still room to speak from a place of truth and not one that merely glosses over reality.

Speaking encouragement and life into someone’s life doesn’t take much, but so often we don’t take the time to do this because we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of anything that isn’t us. But we weren’t made to be solely focused on our needs, we ought to consider the welfare of others (more on this in my next post).

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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Building bridges with Muslims

An event popped up on my Facebook feed last night:

“Learn Islam” Classes for New Muslims and Others
These classes are designed for new Muslims and others who want to learn the basics of Islam.
When: Saturdays, 9:45AM – 1:00PM
Where: Fischer Middle School Room 107 (during Al Falah Academy classes)
1305 Long Grove Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
(this is an ongoing series, so if you’re interested you should come)

I fall in the Others category, but as a lover of learning and a believer that all truth is God’s truth, I went. It was very rewarding to go because I to alter Thomas Aquinas’ quote of “beware the man of one book” I go by “beware the man of only one set of friends”.

I have always been a fan of diversity, and when it comes to people who are diverse, I love them and what they bring to the table. I have a limited knowledge of Islam based on what I have learned and my few Muslim friends who have graciously let me into their lives, their stories.

The reason why I have entitled this post as “building bridges with Muslims” is because there’s a symbiotic relationship in the development; sure I could easily be the one building a bridge to, but this is life, to build bridges there needs to be people on both ends willing to venture out into the sometimes unknown. Unknown isn’t a word that offers up much hope, it is unnerving and it is radical, but my hope isn’t tied up in the unknown. My hope is tied up into something…someone bigger than all my fears, concerns, and ultimately the unknown.

Before I write out a tangent about bridges I am building, have built with others I will say this; if I let fears, concerns, the unknown grasp me and strangle me I would not be the person who I am today. Hope keeps me afloat when I am drowning in my own thoughts. God sustains me and my hope even in times when I am utterly and dreadfully hopeless.

Back to the entry at hand… I was encouraged by today’s get together, because it was a classroom setting of both men and women, taught by both men and women. There was a lot of discussion, interaction, dialogue, and listening. Sure it took some interesting twists and turns, but I can handle that, I in fact like that at times. 🙂 The men whom I talked to were very kind and answered my questions. I did ask them about their stories, where they came from and where they are now today, both from an Islamic standpoint but also their life stories. I won’t disclose them, but one thing I will say is this pertaining to stories and people; people have stories, and people want to be heard, it is healthy and a good thing to get there with people from all walks of life.

This is a weekly get together and I intend to go back next Saturday. I like the group already because they too want to build bridges, they too want to dialogue about commonalities instead of differences. There is no us versus them, there is only we. It is my desire to build that bridge with Muslims as a follower of Isa, there won’t be any converting on my part, only listening and dialoguing and ultimately loving.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” – C.S. Lewis

~Nathanael~

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2 things I’m contemplating prior to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago

There are some individuals who say that you should compartmentalize and keep the sacred from the secular and vice versa. Yet the way I look at it, all truth is God’s truth and there doesn’t need to be a split up of the so-called sacred and secular.

As I prep for the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago I’m contemplating two things, one’s a well known prayer and one’s a cover song by Todd Rungren’s band Utopia called Love is theAnswer.

Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

Utopia/Todd Rundgren – Love is the Answer

I’m excited for a third year to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community (not that there’s no overlap but there needs to be more) at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. God spoke to me prior to the event 3 years ago and I listened and I acted, and so I prepare to leave my house to answer the call once again.

It must be done, building bridges, because this is an issue the church cannot sweep under the carpet and hope nobody notices…well I notice it and the way we act the LGBT community knows it as well. These things take time, but I have faith in God and my generation that we will take care of the matter to truly take the steps of restoration and reconciliation between the Christian community and the LGBT community. Yet since it is in it’s early stages those individuals who go forward now, such as Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation, are pioneers; they’re blazing a trail that hasn’t been traversed and they’re going on faith and trusting in God because the outcome hasn’t been determined yet…but God will see them and I to completion, I have faith in him to do that 🙂

John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

~Nathanael~