There is a very nice lady who regularly visits me at my home and graciously offers me brochures explaining her religious beliefs and an open invitation to attend a service at her church. Sometimes she brings her beautiful daughter or a friend with her, but she is never without her Bible. As I am cursed with a healthy curiosity about many things, I will sometimes invite this particular Jehovah’s Witness into my home for coffee and conversation.
On the most recent occasion, we talked about her religion and how she strives to live her life according to the teachings of the Bible. But problems arose when I retrieved my own Bible, which once belonged to my parents, and discovered that that words, phrases and sometimes whole verses are different or even missing from my version or hers. In light of these discrepancies, she could not convince me that the original message, the divine inspiration, had not been diluted, altered or morphed by translation and other forms of human intervention throughout the centuries like a children’s game of “telephone.” Following this encounter, she has yet to visit me and I presume she has written off my eternal soul as a loss.
The diversity of religious beliefs held by human beings is truly astounding. And yet, the similarities are even more interesting. It seems that we have a deep seated longing for our existence to have a purpose and meaning, even if that purpose must remain a mystery which can never be revealed to us in it’s entirety. To have faith that our brief, meager lives play a role in an infinitely intricate cosmic ballet choreographed by an all-powerful, all-knowing entity is an intrinsic part of a majority of religions. And regardless of our particular form of worship, divine inspiration is sought by all.
But how is this inspiration revealed to us? A feeling? A voice in our head? A burning bush? A turn of events? A dream? Would we even recognize it?
I believe we receive inspiration, divine or otherwise, all the time. It’s a glint of sunlight from broken glass swept into a storm drain. It’s a precious moment spent observing our children as they sleep. It’s a fleeting memory of disappointment, pain or fear that highlights the wonder of the gift love. It is a painting, a book, a breath. Anything and everything can provide inspiration if we are observant enough to recognize it and brave enough to use it to learn and grow and change into something more than we were before.
You never know, a cup of coffee with a stranger may be all the inspiration you need.