Marvin Repinski: Movements in the religious journey

Published 5:33 pm Friday, August 13, 2021

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“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you O God.  My soul thirsts for God for the living God.  Where is your God?  Why are you cast down, cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God.”  (Psalm 42:1-3, 11)

The following contains some hints, some beliefs, some thoughts in progress and some evaluations. The topic is one that is open-ended as I live with questions of faith and knowledge of world religions.

In teaching World Religions classes at Riverland Community College for three years, my appreciation of various paths to contemplate an ultimate reality became evident. That “reality” is often embraced as God. The special studies became an extension of the seeking of my heart, mind, and application.

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My present assessment is that many people, maybe most persons, have questions and even struggles over belief in God.

Among the constellation of views, there is a centuries old scholarship of human beings having an actual soul. We know people who say or write in conviction. “When you’re dead, you’re dead!” There are those who once prohibited the practice of cremation of the body. That belief, at least in part, was based on a literalistic (non-poetic, metaphorical or mythical) use of the Bible, and interpretation of the Bible or sacred creeds.

Some verses of scripture are wrestled with resulting in conflicting claims.  A song sung during the Easter season contains the words, “Up from the grave He arose.” Added to the views already stated is the conviction of reincarnation.

Also among other life after death possibilities are the visions, possibilities, and provisions created in the human dream world. Over time, individuals may find satisfaction in a movement to embrace a different conviction. The present writings, acknowledging that most persons have conversations about what follows death, if anything does follow our life on earth.

I am most familiar with the forms of spirituality within the varied Christian traditions. My interest is how individuals internalize hope and give witness to their faith. My attention is the reading of obituaries from several newspapers, the “Austin Daily Herald” among them. I am, by the way, not searching for my name, but I do grieve over names of persons I know who have died. At age 83 I still tie my own shoe laces!

Written of artist and teacher Jim Wegner, a friend of so many, who on Aug. 4 died at age 91: “As a member of Austin’s First United Methodist Church, he helped select the organ, sang in the choir, and designed beautiful banners,” which Becky and I appreciate.

One of his paintings hangs in our home.

Statements of faith by the following people, indicate their journey in finding a religious life among the choices that begets a stand, a reason for living.

“You have been greatly missed since leaving on your journey to Heaven.”

“Transitioned peacefully into the presence of the Lord.”

“Went to be with her savior, and to join her beloved husband, Don, and his parents …”

“Died at St. Clare Living Community in Mora … The service is at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.”

“Alice died the way she lived; her faith in God leading, comforting, and nourishing her abundant strength.”

Added to these reflections, we may note, “Vi’s impact … .concerned music in the high school, Zion Lutheran Church … .mentor to scores of young people.”

“Clara found joy in each day right to her passing. She did not fear death, but instead looked forward to going to Heaven. She remained active leading Sunday School for children and Bible study for a women’s group.”

“Don passed away surrounded by love and his family.  A Catholic Mass of Christian burial will be held at the Church of Saint Timothy.”

About Faye: “She loved church, being out and about shopping, playing bingo, going to church festivals, and the Minnesota State Fair.”

The personalizing of a person’s faith is apparent. Said of Audrey, “… went to rest in the arms of the Lord. She was a life-long learner, studying the Swedish language, and researching genealogy and history.” 

What I have reviewed could be said of so many of the persons I have identified. Good people. I believe they were touched by an invisible hand. A spiritual reality is very evident!

I add “Dee,” who “passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family. Greeted into Heaven by the love of her life, husband Bill.”

The manner of our expressing our spiritual hopes, our religious vision, is of various creations, but they indicate that life is more than eating pizza or driving that new car!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35.