Last week Team Fink began their Religious Pilgrimage around Denver. The first two stops were a Synagogue and Mosque. Below are the student’s reflections.
This religious pilgrimage has opened my eyes again on how different religions can teach us so much about our own. Going a second time has helped me go even deeper with each religion. Returning a second time has made me much more curious and has left me wanting to learn more. Each religion was unique and different in their own way but also each religion had much in common. Judaism is such an interesting religion. When we left the Synagogue I walked out with more questions then when I came in. I learned a lot from the prayer shawls to the Torah. I liked that they have 613 laws to keep them on the right path with God and to keep them away from distractions. Even though I didn’t get to see Judaism being practiced it was cool to be in a different place and get rid of the mindset that my religion is right. The Islam faith is fascinating. I walked out knowing a lot more about the religion. I learned that in Islam the key is to “think good, speak good, and do good.”( Shafi) This was a concept that we have to put our kind hearts into action. It was incredible that the Imam kept quoting the Bible. This showed me how much he has studied other religions to make his religion stronger. I also learned that the Quran is guidance from God. One of my main highlights of this trip was watching the call for prayer. It was so humbling to me watching them put there heads to the ground and submitting to God. I could do a better job of this and putting the word submit into action. Overall this trip was incredible and has re opened my eyes. –Alli Religions.There are so many different religions in the world that can all connect and contradict with each other. “We usually judge people’s religions because we are blinded without even knowing.”(Megan S.). We follow the patterns of the world and by doing that, the patterns become a tradition. How can we break that tradition? Well, learning about other religions help us uncover the stories, connections, myths and the truths people have. We need to be open minded to what others have to say about their religion, even if we don’t agree. You can’t just judge a religion without even knowing what it is and why you’re judging it. “In EVERY religion we constantly are judging the other religion.” (Imam Shafi). This has become a problem because some innocent people are getting hurt. To fix this problem it’s going to take a change of heart and you’ll have to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Everyone’s religion needs a little improvement and that starts with me and my religion. –Maddie Misconceptions grasp my eyes and mind, contorting my love into fear. A tree stands; its trunk is solid and full of maple, it’s leaves are rich reds, popping oranges, and gentle yellows, the trunks reach towards the sky in praise to God, the fruit it bares is the freshest, most nourishing, and flavorful. It stands the perfect height and is home to many animals. The tree is the most amazing tree, the most beautiful, but I don’t look at the tree. I sit in the sun and look where the world has directed my eyes, the monstrous, dark shadow reaches toward me; it is a fractured, twisting mob of blackness. The shadow bares no fruit, the shadow doesn’t reach to the sky, the shadow is not home to any animals, except me. The shadow is ugly and small, so I cut down the tree. I walk to a tree that man has planted and the shadow is dancing and big. It looks beautiful, but what I don’t realize is the tree is plastic, the fruit is fake, the leaves are not real. “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” (Abraham Lincoln). After going on a religious pilgrimage for my third time, I still struggle in letting the misconceptions be true in my mind, I continue to conformed into what the world tells me, but going on this journey, my perspective has changed and reminded me that the world tends to speak lies. This journey is important, because in the journey my eyes have lifted up from the shadow, to see the actual tree. “In every faith there are evil people, who hijack the religion, and take the teachings our of context.” (Shaffi). There is always going to be someone evil, but we can’t just see that one person as the whole. In the synagogue and mosque, I actually felt serenity and love. It is possible to be open-minded and not lack awareness and that is what we should do. People like to create fear, but so many people also want peace. The Imam ‘Shaffi’ and Rabbi ‘Neil’ were both amazing people and people of peace. “It is about the journey, not so much the destination.” (Neil). I’m glad I got to participate in this journey, even if I never land at a destination. “We learn things everyday, even when we are old we never cease to learn.” (Rodger). Everyday we constantly learn and expand not only our minds, but our hearts. “There can be four answers: I’m right and you are wrong, I’m wrong and you are right, we are both wrong, or we are both right. Usually it is the fourth one.” (Neil). We thirst to prove others wrong, but what if we were both right? The thing I see missing from both religions is that Jesus is the son of God, and the unconditional love and forgiveness God has gifted us. These missing pieces are essential to the puzzle of God. They are important because we are all sinners in this world and we need forgiveness, we need a savior, which God gave us Jesus; also why should we have hope, faith, joy if our Creator doesn’t love us? That’s not how it should be and that is not how it is, God loves us even though we constantly are disobeying Him, His love endures forever. There are some pieces of God that other religions fully believe in, but these ones seem to complete the concept of God. This journey is sometimes confusing, but it is good for the soul. In many ways learning about other religions, pulls me closer to God and makes me strong in my faith. I’ve been able to look from the ugly shadows, and view the beautiful trees. –Megan Seeing other religions, which are not our own, is what true beauty is. It’s seeing the perspective of the Lord and learning instead of judging. That’s what the world is, a bunch of individual people and religions that make up the Earth. It’s just like how the moon needs the dark of the night to glow; or how the land needs the water to live and keep its beauty. That’s what we are all missing, that we all connected. We all play a part in this world, but society has blinded us and taped our mouths shut from seeing and speaking the truth. We need to be the ones who rip the pieces of tape off of our mouth and spread the word. Spread the word of love and joy and tell everyone that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in, what country you’re in, the color of your skin, or your political status. The Bible calls for us to love one another, not compare one another. We all were made to be the moon to the dark and the water to the earth. “We need to take advantage of diversity” (Imam). Our country is full of diversity, but we spend so much time creating bad thoughts that there is no room for good thoughts. It fills our brains with false assumptions that aren’t true. Learn about different people and religions, because it is more beautiful that way. What broke down my assumptions was the fact that the Muslims, when they pray, put their heads to the ground. The Muslims feel sinful and unworthy of the Lord, which is why they are on their hands and knees. I pray with my feet up on the couch with my phone in my hand and my eyes pointed at the ceiling. It makes me feel more unworthy than anyone. I pray and go to church when it’s convenient and say that I am a true Christian. I should be going to the church every second of every day because of my sinful nature. That’s why it’s important to experience other beliefs, because you can learn more about your religion through someone else’s. –Angelina God does so much for us, while we do so little for Him. God says to love your neighbor, beyond the color of their skin, their religion, and their appearance. How often do we truly love our neighbor? It is hard to genuinely love your neighbor without knowing them. Now the question really changes, how often do we allow ourselves to become open to the delight of loving others? In life, we struggle opening ourselves fully to the idea of being vulnerable. We can try by being transparent with God and find the comfort to do so. “The purpose of soul questions is to open yourself deeper and deeper until all that is left is the power and beauty you are bringing to the lives of others.” (Gary Zukav) Before changing the world you have to change yourself. By that we can learn from other people and other religions. I have more questions about my faith now then I did before going to the Mosque and the Jewish pilgrimage. Learning about other religions made me realize how big God really is. God loves us all even if we sin or do bad things. I opened my eyes more to living for God. There is only one God we should live for. We mostly talk from our minds and not our hearts. “You have to believe in your heart and say better with your tongue.” (Imam Shafi) I had blindly made my faith stronger, my love more compassionate, and my heart a little more clean by experiencing God through the wonders of others. –Charleigh Here in America there has been a picture that has been painted for us. It was painted by our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and founding fathers. The painting clearly states that America rules the world and that Christianity is the only religion that is true. That picture is tradition that needs to be changed. There needs to be a new picture painted. A picture of the world through a big and new lens. A picture that paints the idea that it is ok to have different views and Interpretations from your neighbor. That it is ok that Muslims call God “Allah”. That Jews believe that Jesus is a prophet, when Christianity believes differently. “Sometimes our similarities are our differences.” (Megan Suedkamp). Today it really came to my attention that most religions believe in one God like Christianity does. “Either I can be right and your friend can be wrong, your friend can be right and I can be wrong, we both can be wrong, or we both can be right.” (Rabbi Neil). Before today I really didn’t understand how similar most religions are to each other, and that just because you hear one thing doesn’t mean that it is right or wrong. Many different people can be right. It is all just interpretation and comprehension. I also had the idea put in my head that Christianity is the only right religion. Now I am understanding that I need to look from the oil on my spoon and not be too quick to assume. For assumption leads you down a path of hatred and lies. I am a servant, but heavens don’t act like one. I am a child, but heavens I am not a good one. I am a Christian, but really do I love like one? –Makayla