Believe-art

JON NELSONOften, when I see the world, this country, our state in such a mess — like we are seeing here in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day —I tend to rail against what has happened, to talk about what others need to do to solve the problem.

Perhaps a better step might be to think about what I really believe in, and what that belief really means.

So, in what do I believe?

I believe in justice. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in kindness. I believe in understanding. I believe in having love for one another. I believe in you. And I believe in me.

I believe that we are not on some existential journey, just reacting to external stimuli. I believe God has placed us on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to do unto others as we would have done to us.

Just that simple.

I believe I am no better than you, no matter who you are. I believe I don’t have all the answers, so I really should listen to you, whether I agree with you or not. I believe I am a fallible, defective human being who is nevertheless loved by God.

That’s what I believe. But so what?

What good is belief without some kind of action?

Lee Ann Womack sings a song called “I Hope You Dance.” It is the most spiritual non-spiritual song I have ever heard. Here are the words; take the time to read them.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.

You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger.

May you never take one single breath for granted.

God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance

I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance.

Never settle for the path of least resistance.

Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin.’

Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin.’

Don’t let some hellbent heart leave you bitter.

When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider.

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion, always rolling us along)

I hope you dance

I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)

I hope you dance (Where those years have gone?)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance —

I hope you dance.

If that isn’t the formula for living one’s life, I don’t know what is.

It is a call to live, a call to action. It is a call to be engaged in this world. It tells us what feelings to strive for and what actions to take in our lives.

The song does not tell us specifically what to do; it doesn’t have to. That is up to us. And because we are all different, what we do and how we do it are up to us.

Over our lifetime, there will be many opportunities. Nothing on a grand scale is required, just something from me and you.

I cannot cure poverty, but I can lend a hand. I cannot by myself ban semi-automatic weapons, or enforce better background checks, or force more scrutiny on mental health screenings.

But I can sign a petition; I can voice my opinions when it is uncomfortable to do so. And I can VOTE.

For me, it takes thought and, for some things, a little planning. Isn’t it worth that small amount of time? That’s a question each of us will have to answer.

But there’s one thing I’m certain of: You will always derive more out of giving than the recipient. So I ask God to help me live what I believe, and as for you …

I HOPE YOU DANCE.