Marvin Repinski: Devotion that has many forms and practices

Published 5:39 pm Friday, March 18, 2022

The Bible:  I Kings 17:6

“The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook.”

“To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wildflower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.”

(William Blake)

In a study of the great religions of the world, we find a symmetry, an often central compassionate core of ideas that move toward a common core.

There are differences, and in comparison, even conflicting thoughts and admonishments, but to our delight there is a sense of the wisdom of seeking hearts.  Someone might say, “It’s similar to the political parties in the United States:  Republicans, Democrats, Independents and ‘count me out.’” Yet they are a call to our humanity, our U.S. of A. We are a Republic. We are a Democracy.

I write out of commitment to the historic, traditional, religious posture that is Christian; it has many flavors, but there are bonding qualities that attempt to reveal the love of God.  Our aspiration is to, in action, in belief, be a trusting, unified nation of 50 states.

My religious affections are grounded in a particular manner embracing a Biblical revelation while not saying “My way or the highway!”  We best be informed by many of the writings of the Bible that recognize the breath of responses to a Creator, a God of all nations. Verses for the book of Psalms, as with a multitude of similar passages, grant a generous teaching. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”  (Psalm 25: 4-5).  “It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.  You give me a wide place for my steps under me.”  (Psalm 18:28-36)

That said, my intention in writing a few paragraphs is to note that in many Christian churches, the Lenten weeks move us to the middle of Lent. Not all Christian communities use this term or a day-by-day counting of 40 days of special devotional practice. But one may recognize the fact that a variety of devotional emphasis and special days are part of some Christian organizations. And the same can be said of the practices, special days, rites, geographical journeys and the attention to certain religious personalities, even angels!

A publication by the United Methodist Foundation of Higher Education, has printed a guide — terms for practice.  These words give weight, depth, meditation, devotional, and suggestive themes to embrace.  The list is as follows:  Reflect, search, serve, pray, dust, lead, peace, waste, bread, journey, justice, light, confess, water, invite, bloom, direct, beauty, grow, word, disciple, valley, purpose, friend, rise, give, Sabbath, joy, hope, broken, study, freedom, guide, push, dark, embrace, be, forgive, quiet, rejoice.

Terms, words, sentences, phrases, instructions, etc., have a way to blossom forth to address our anguish and prompt new resolutions. The following reportage is a statement; sorrow mixed with courage.

The headline in the Tuesday, March 15, Minneapolis Star Tribune reads, “Attacks Pound Away at Cities”.

The photograph of Maria Zavialova is of a woman who arrived in Minnesota 21 years ago. She is currently the curator of the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. To the interviewer, John Reinan, she said she is “brimming with pain, indignation and rage at what’s happening to Ukraine and Russia.”

I have, in a previous essay, written of my grandmother, who was born in Ukraine; a resident with Maria, and the estimated 16,000 people in Minnesota whose ancestry is Ukrainian. We may add that in Minnesota, there are 11,000 persons who are originally from Russia.

One of the owners of the restaurant Moscow on the Hill, in St. Paul, has spoken of the present harassment. Mr. Liberman states, “We are not responsible for Putin’s war.  We left to get away from Russian oppression. We are American.”

The hearts of not only immigrants from many years ago, but more recently, have, in some sense, found each other. There is sharing, renewed friendships, and care for each other.  The care is extending to those miles and miles away suffering from the curse of war, now removed from us in the here and now.

We all are bound together with hearts fed by a devotion to our religious practices. It is a present NOW for all of us.

“Nothing at bottom, is real except humanity.”  (Auguste Comte)

A fisherman’s prayer:

“O god, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.”  May God enlarge our boats and calm the sea.