Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Faith Beginnings: A Faith Story

“We each mature, learn, grow stronger and deeper in our Faith in unique and personal ways…You may choose to share one particular Faith Experience, a moment or time where you especially felt God's presence, love and inspiration. Or you may choose to relate your Faith Journey, the history and experience that have led you to your current Faith. Perhaps you've felt God's presence most strongly through the lives of others that have touched you in unique ways, able to see the spark of the Divine in those that cared for, comforted, or inspired you.”  –preface to “Faith Stories,” The Episcopal Church

Anne Ridenour
My earliest memories as a child are of a special time when we lived on my grandmother’s farm. My parents built a small house down the hill, across the creek, and on the edge of a field. We would walk or ride our bikes to visit my grandmother.

I played all over the farm. I caught crayfish in the stream with my older brother. We climbed through the barns and we climbed trees. This was the beginning of my faith story. God’s creation beckoning young feet that wanted to explore it.

Later, we moved to the river shore in St. Mary’s County. My brother and I filled our time crabbing, fishing, hunting for fossils and exploring for hours. The sandy spit where I spent many hours was my retreat from the world of school and I loved escaping into such an alive and beautiful space.

In the context of this natural world that embraced me, my faith story grew to include people who were instrumental in shaping the way I interact with the world. I cherished the times I would sit with my father on the steps watching the river, talking about anything and everything. I learned to seek quiet spaces and enjoy good storytelling. Sr. Sara Ann, my high school religion teacher, taught me that short visits and simple greetings generously spread are what love is all about. We visited the Nursing Center during school hours regularly. Dr. David Anthony, Professor of Asian Studies, showed me how to be a friend to the world. Asian Studies was my major in college and I was very fortunate to travel to China and walk the Great Wall of China with Dr. Anthony. My mother was instrumental in developing the Environmental Studies program for all students in St. Mary’s County Public Schools so they could spend time outdoors learning to appreciate our natural world and better understand how we, as humans, impact our natural spaces. I learned passion and commitment to life work from my mother.

Rachel Carson in her book, “The Sense of Wonder,” shares her belief, “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us, that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had the influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and the disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."

Anne Ridenour is a member of Christ Church, Chaptico.

What moments, stories, or experiences have shaped your current faith? Who has been a part of your faith journey and helped you along the way? Share your thoughts, comments, or questions on Facebook.