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leopardThis video of a charity tennis match with Rafael Nadal really caught my attention. A woman in the crowd loses her child and Nadal stops the match as security helps her.

What really got to me was the part at the end, when the camera focuses on tennis great, John McEnroe. In days of yore, he would have ranted at the woman, You can’t find your kid? You have GOT to be kidding me! But it doesn’t turn out the way, and this made me wonder: can people really change?

How about this question: can a hermit flip a switch and suddenly become an extrovert? The Swiss town of Solothurn seems to think so. They recently placed an ad seeking a professional hermit with a charismatic personality willing to engage in small talk with the public.

Of course, there are many things that you can change, including your name and your appearance.

Do you know who Ilyena Vasilievna Mironoff is? She’s an actress you may have seen in such movies as The Hundred Foot Journey and The Queen. Not for nothing, but at 68 years old, she’s got the figure of a swimmer!

Do you recognize this famous face? jennifer-grey-mindy-friends She (and her original nose) starred in the movie, Dirty Dancing, but I saw her in a rerun of Friends recently, and I didn’t know who she was!

“I went into the ­operating room a ­celebrity and came out anonymous,” she told The Mirror in 2012. “It was the nose job from hell. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody ­recognizes because of a nose job.”

Surely, these things are malleable, but what about who-we-are at the very core? Can people change at the most basic level? Saul did, on the road to Damascus, and finding faith led him to become the Apostle, Paul.

After once calling himself an “amiable agnostic,” CS Lewis experienced God’s “compelling embrace.” Remember Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Well, if Johnny Mac has become an old softie on the tennis court, heck, maybe anyone can change!

Years ago, there was an ad campaign directed at teenagers.  On the screen there was an image of an egg.  A somber voice said, “This is your brain.”  Then a pair of hands cracked the egg into a sizzling frying pan, and the voice intoned, “This is your brain on drugs.”

I think there’s a change as profound as this that happens when you find faith.  This is your soul.  This is your soul on God.  Only instead of feeling like you’re a scrambled egg in a frying pan, you feel like you’ve been put back together.  Your soul feels whole.

The thing is, there are so many people who claim to speak for God.  As we’ve seen throughout history, faith can be used as an instrument of healing, but also as a weapon of warfare.

So, how do you know which “way” is the right way?  Is there only one true religion?

On a more day-to-day level, how do you discern “God’s leading?”  For example, I’m waiting for God’s leading in terms of finding a church home, but what He seems to be saying in this case (as in so many others) is that I need to use my own best judgment.

If I’d grown up in a church (like Lori, who’s Catholic) and as I got older, found I disagreed with some of its tenets, it would be possible to find a way to change the church from within and voice my disagreements respectfully but firmly, the way Lori does.

But since I’m an adult (most of the time, anyway), I can’t bring myself to join a religion that I don’t fully agree with.  For a time, I attended Unitarian Universalist services but realized that having no creed is a problem as well.

Ideally, I’d like to create a church of my own.   As I said in a previous post, my beliefs are a hodge-podge of “the Zen Buddhist idea that we are all connected, the Native American focus on nature, and the notion that all prayer, in any tongue, reaches God,” so that’s what my church would focus on.  I’d also make it an inclusive faith that doesn’t just “tolerate” gays (and women, for that matter) and one that doesn’t regard science as the opposite of faith.

So even though I haven’t found my faith home yet, I do find spiritual sustenance in great books and prayer blogs (like this one) and my virtual network of fellow believers populate the pews in my mind.  Until then, I’ll keep my brain on positive things (so it doesn’t feel fried up and dried up) and I’ll keep my soul on God (so I’m still and serene even in the eye of a storm.)


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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