DAY 14: Interfaith Perspective
For me, stories are an absolutely essential part of my faith. As has come up each year during 30 Days of Love, I grew up Roman Catholic and spent much of my high school and college years around Franciscans. When I think about stories that have impact for me, many of them are stories of Francis of Assisi.
The story of Francis embracing a leper – who he had previously ignored, avoided and had been taught to despise – reminds me to push past the cultural messages, personal fears and other barriers that keep me from recognizing the worth of each person and acting on the recognition.
The story of Francis meeting with the Sultan, told and retold with different emphases and motivations, reminds me none-the-less to seek dialogue, even – or especially – in contentious situations.
Factual or not, these stories have currency. They have truth even if they don’t necessarily have fact. And I saw echoes of them in contemporary stories of individuals. Whether it was one of the friars at my college telling a story of his time in Egypt working at a hospital for those with Hansen’s Disease working alongside Christians and Muslims, or the professor in my social thought class who shares how the stories of Jesus and of Francis call him to be with those on the margins, I saw these treasured stories retold and re-lived. For me, the personal stories gave life to the older tales and made them tangible. Relatable. Livable.
Working at the UUA, I see different stories now, but with no less importance than the ones I treasured in my early young adulthood. I believe it is in sharing our different stories that we find common ground. The story that pushes you toward the recognition of worth and dignity of every person is probably different than mine. But the core is the same. We just won’t know it if we don’t take a chance and share our stories.