Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A Journey Towards Faith, Interfaith Friendships And Global Citizenship - Eolia

Credit: quertime

A few days ago, I published on my blog a post about the 5 Pillars of Islam from a LDS perspective (for kids). As I explained there, teaching my Faith to my kids is really important for me and my husband BUT I can’t allow them to be ignorant towards the other Faiths and “nones”.
I’m a convert to “Mormonism”: I have lived in a house with (not so) different beliefs and experienced things a Latter-day Saint from birth would probably not have experienced. I was raised by an inactive catholic grand-mother (who still burnt a candle on the occasions we visited a church and was relieved that my wedding dress had my shoulders covered…) and a non-believing mother. Yeah, I use this loose term because she’s not really sure what she believes in: certainly not in the Catholic Church organization, maybe in spirits and energetic forces, not so much in the after-life (as I see it, it’s more a fear of facing her choices than true denial… or she wouldn’t bother to clean the tombstones of her grand-parents and parents and tell me they would not like to see them dirty or trashed).
My whole childhood, I felt that something bigger was there. Praying to Marie or Marie-Magdalena was a habit for me in my times of need, at home in my bedroom or in churches. Thinking back on it, I was a bit jealous of my friends who attended catechism. In my mind, they were taught the will of God, what to do, what would happen after death, etc. Religious topics weren’t discussed at my home, although I was eager to read more in the books I borrowed at the library. From there comes my love for History and personal stories or biographies.
When I finally met my father at 14 years old, I knew why I was attracted by the spiritual side of life. Since then, talking with people from different backgrounds is a real pleasure for me. Searching for the light of divine love and compassion in the eyes of the speaker, watching her / him explain what matters in her / his life, how they try to better themselves… how can I turn my head and walk away from these opportunities? Sure, some people are so closed in their faith, in their ideologies, that they would never accept the experiences and the sincerity in the beliefs of their neighbors.
My youth was in no way miserable; I was loved (even if a bit caged at times) when a few of my friends suffered horrible pains (from illnesses, abuses, neglects, depression, etc). I looked at what they went through and how they overcame their struggles. The more I try to reach for God, to look for where He was and how I could live more peacefully and fully, the more I became perceptive of the problems of my friends and people I met. Charity, generosity, goodness were concepts I longed for. Not from the others to me, but I for the world. With my small student allowance from the state and the part-time job I had as a school supervisor, for over a year, I even gave each month to a NGO (Plan International) to foster a child who was in more need than me. That’s just an example.
Ten years ago, I met a young woman who became first my friend and after a few months, also the one who introduced me to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. There, I found peace (even if my mother was flabbergasted by my choice and my dad very supportive). And love (side note: I met my husband when I was definitely not looking for one!). The beliefs of the Church, its understanding of the Gospel, its practices, were not foreign for me: it was like coming home. Well, in a sense, I’m on the way “Home”, meaning returning to God, our Heavenly Father, and following what I believe to be the path to eternal life (both physically and spiritually).

After our religious wedding, in the Temple in Zollikofen, Switzerland, 1st of August 2006. The ordinance is called a Sealing: families are united forever

Of course, it’s MY belief. Whenever one of the member of my Church is too engrossed in telling someone that we are the True Church, the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, I cringe internally (and sometimes it also expresses itself on my face). Not that I don’t believe that. However it’s what WE think is true, and demeaning someone else religion / faith by putting them in a place where “they are wrong and don’t do Good the right way” is absolutely not how God works. “Mormons” (like many call the Later-day Saints) have a firm belief in free-agency being one of the most treasured gifts our Father has given us. What we chose will have consequences, but we CAN’T impose our view, our opinion, our will on a person… even if we know that they are making a great mistake (and these last years, I have seen it quite personally with my mother… but it’s a story for another day).
For a bit over a year now, I've been in contact with a group of multicultural / multilingual bloggers who expanded my horizons of the world tenfold! In this community, I have met people from many places, with various languages, careers, religions or none, etc. What unites us? Our love for the world and the potential of goodness and wonders in the Human being! It’s more than Interfaith, it’s Global Citizenship. Our motto could be “Raising children who will embrace the world in its complexity and make it a better place for all.”
Talking with my six year old son about how Muslims pray and give alms can make a huge difference in his future life. OK, perhaps not just this topic, but how I tend to show him (and his younger sister) that diversity exists and that we shouldn’t be afraid of it. There are “good people” everywhere, and “dangerous ones” in all places. We have to use our intelligence and our heart to judge the character of someone, to meditate about what their life is, to become more empathetic and friendly, and of course to protect ourselves when a person is “bad” for us. I hope he will be able to see people past their figure and seek the divine flame in them. He won’t be friends with everyone, especially those who are close-minded, but he can endeavor to be kind whatever the situation may be.
At 33 years old, I’m still on the young side of my life. Who can tell me WHAT I will be in ten or thirty years? Apart from God, no one… Nonetheless, I know WHO I want to be: a bit of the same Eolia as today, with her dimples when she smiles and her big voice when she’s too passionate in her talk, with her Faith in God, her love for her family, her ability to think multiple things at the same time… and also a better Eolia with more patience, more cooking skills, a German language mastered, a deeper understanding of the Gospel and a keener ear to listen to the Spirit (a non- exhaustive list). My faith will keep being a central part of me, my friendships – I hope – will be more diverse and I will see the world as my house more than ever. I’m not an expert in a dedicated field, nor a beginner in life. My aim is to progress at my “natural talents” and learn from all the topics I find interesting, especially Interfaith dialogue and Global Citizenship… until forever.

Eolia is a French mom of two young children (soon three!) who moved to Germany 22 months ago, following her husband in his new job. Baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in July 2005, her first affiliation ever to a faith even if she already considered herself a Christian before, she kept her will of openness and of discovering the mysteries of the world. She refuses to stick labels on people and prefers to go with the flow (of the Holy Ghost or cosmic energy…) and doesn’t let herself be too overwhelmed by events. She knows she’s far from perfect and the image of pure kindness (just ask her kids how “mean” she can be when she says no), but that doesn’t stop her from taking another step on her journey toward God. And if she meets open-minded people from various backgrounds on the way, that’s even better! She blogs at La Cité des Vents, a bilingual blog (French / English).

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