Did you ever listen to the NPR five-minute broadcast called This I Believe? A different piece ran every Monday for four years, sadly ending in 2009. NPR re-instituted the concept, which was the brainchild of celebrated journalist Edward R. Murrow, who began radio broadcasts of This I Believe in the 1950s, seeking “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.” If you have some time, listen to some of these broadcasts – either from the 1950s or the NPR stories from the 2000s. All are worthwhile, in my humble opinion.
I always wanted to write a This I Believe essay. I wanted to find a core belief – something deep inside myself – that I could turn into my personal story. Surely I could find that, harness it, make it mine, and live by it.
Belief, I found, doesn’t work that way for me. There are things I believe in, unquestioningly – though not in any particular order: God. Baseball. The Mets. Puns. But I haven’t been able to find one overarching, meta-belief by which I live my life.
God is a biggie. The existence of God, for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever doubted God’s existence. Not even as a child. How God presents to us – I have no idea. I know it’s not the old bearded white guy in the art of Michelangelo. Not a person at all (although I believe that we are made in God’s image, in a very loose sense). I experience God in nature, in a perfect day in October, in the mountains of New Mexico, in 30-foot waves in Hawaii, in a no-hitter by a much-maligned pitcher, in the pureness of a newborn baby, in laughter, in sorrow.
Baseball and The Mets are almost as big (though on most days, God wins. (Not during the World Series, however.)
Puns? Well…I’ll leave that to my family and friends to judge. Weigh in, OK?
What I’ve realized, after almost 60 years on this earth, is that I believe in kindness, more than anything else (even puns, for which I feel repuntant). Kindness, even the tiniest act of kindness, changes me. Because it shifts how I look at others. If and when I can find it in myself to be kind, in the midst of anger or fear, I am on the road to my better self. If there is someone else in the mix, my act of kindness may shift where that person is. I hope so.
Yes. This I believe.
Once again, I’m participating in #BlogElul, which I have followed for a few years. I’ve found it helpful as I ponder and reflect in the month before the High Holidays – Yamim Noraim. Check out some of the amazing themed posts geared around the work and joy of Elul – of introspection and reflection in the days leading to the High Holy Days (Organized by Ima Bima.) You can read prior years’ #blogElul posts via the Elul tag.