Marvin Repinski: When beliefs guide a person

Published 6:30 am Saturday, July 31, 2021

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Jesus is recorded as saying, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost and He finds it?” – Luke 15:1-10.

The beliefs held by persons of accomplishments are the basis of their contributions. A wise teacher said to me in a dream, “Put some good stuff in your noggin, Marvin, and you’ll go a long way.” My interest over many years has been finding what makes people tick; what is in their thoughts that take them through the deep waters? The following examples are part of my “research” of a sort.

M. Deborah Hyde-Rowan is one of only two — at one time — who was a black female neurosurgeon in the United States. Born in Mississippi in 1949, she studied at several prominent schools. As a believer in the mystery of God, I quote her reflection, “I believe that divine intervention has guided my journey through life. I am not implying predestination, for I do not believe that one’s fate is predestined. Rather, opportunities present themselves; how one deals with those opportunities determines one’s fate. I prefer to call my life a series of divine accidents!”

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Norman Cousins is a man who for 25 years edited the “Saturday Review.” He refers to an event that most impacts his life. It was “the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, and seeing the banner headline telling of the world’s first nuclear weapon.” It was reported that day in the New York Times. “For me, future history seemed to reveal itself.” His comment about his life is “one grows into one’s philosophy. Year by year, an individual is shaped by the sights, the sounds, the ideas around him, each human being is a process, a filtering process of retention or rejection; absorption or loss. The process defines individuality.”

The news of July 28 included the headline, “Biles puts mind and body ahead of gold.” Simone Biles, regarded as the world’s most accomplished female gymnast, dropped out of the current Olympic competition because of mental health issues. As of this writing, because of what she described as the stress she is experiencing, she is “not in the right ‘headspace’.”

Among other books, Jane Goodall wrote one that reminds me of scholarly interest, “My Friends, the Wild Chimpanzees.” She writes of her larger life, “Some years ago, I visited Notre Dame. By good fortune, there were very few people about, and it was still and quiet inside. Just as I was gazing up where the sun made the great rose window glow, the whole cathedral, without warning, was filled with a huge volume of sound. As the organ thundered out Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,’ the music was alive. The moment, a suddenly captured moment of eternity, was perhaps the closest I have ever come to experiencing ecstasy, in the mystical sense the advent of Bach himself; his brain that had translated truth into music. I have to admit anti-chance. And so I believe in a guiding power in the universe. In other words, I believe in God.”

Among Hugh Down’s many accomplishments was that he served on the Citizens’ Advisory Board on Mental Health in New York State. For years he was the chairman of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. Later in life, Downs wrote of his belief, “I believe that belief — may be important to a Christian, to believe Christ existed, to believe in His divinity, to believe that He taught what He taught, and to believe this teaching is powerful and true. But none of this ‘the Christian is often admonished’ is worth anything unless the feeling of love for others is present and results in loving action.”

Joan Baez urged some of us to sing along with her or maybe mouth the words. She was known, some might say, as a “radical,” but her commitment to anti-war and belief in non-violence has to be reckoned with. She said of a part of her life, “The attachment to non-violent action is spiritual — coming out of an old-fashioned Quaker heritage. What people do in a Quaker meeting is sit around as a group listening for the word of God to guide them. You could say that I’ve been a conduit — that something could be called God.”

A closing word about belief and action: “So He set off and went to his father. But while He was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20.