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On meditating on the subject of what other religions I am drawn to and what about them I appreciate (envy is a not quite right word for me), I realize that I often come to them through art. BBT mentioned Native American necklaces–I have a wonderful Zuni bird fetish necklace. San Ildefonso black pottery, woven Chimayo rugs, kachina dolls. They touch me with the importance of symbols/spirits/animals in Native wisdom traditions. I have sculptures of the Buddha, and Quan Yin on my bookshelf, a bamboo tea ceremony whisk, a sculpture of Durga on a tiger. The beautiful geometric patterns in Islam fascinate and inspire me. So like BBT, I have a lot of “images” from other faith traditions around me, but they in some ways only scratch the surface–they draw me in, but I’m not sure into what! I admire as I said the importance of spirit animals in Native tradition. The sculpture of the Buddha draws me into its meditative stance, the Zen tea ceremony whisk reminds me of what I admire about simplicity, focus and attention. But I do not really know much about the heart of these traditions and even less about how they might enrich and deepen my own faith. The images do make me want to read and study the writings and truths of other traditions.
There was (maybe she is still there) a sister, Elaine, of the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky. She ran the retreat center there and had a wonderful library. It was full of writing by Merton (more his later work), Quaker writing, Lao Tsu…a kind of bringing together of those who had something to say about meditation and simplicity as I think about it. Perhaps that’s what I most admire and find holy in other traditions. It is a good question to think about.