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The Concerned Optimist: Faith and Feminism

Reflection on faith: 

I am a woman of faith. Faith is defined as “a complete trust in someone or something.” In an ever-evolving world of danger, having faith can seem insane. By definition, you can have faith in anything: Ben & Jerry’s flavor (mine is New York Super Fudge Chunk), a captivating sunset, the euphoria after adopting a dog, etc. Faith can be a compass for embracing life, for all of its dire complications and splendid surprises. 

Oftentimes, faith and religion are used together like an unfortunate shampoo and conditioner combination. The Bible, in many respects, is treated like Hometown Buffet, picked apart to satisfy an agenda. Religion is weaponized but comes through as a dull knife. Religion as a divisive political ploy can distract an important understanding of the beautiful and varied ways of observance.  I have found myself speaking more as a woman of faith instead of a Christian. I did this in order to exclude myself from the narrative of emboldened corrupt ideals of religion. 

Reading for relatability to faith: 

In the book, Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spiritual, and a Deeper Connection to Life in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There), Sarah Hurwitz, a former speechwriter for Michelle Obama, writes about rediscovering Judaism. Her spiritual connection informed her ideals. She writes in an engaging tone that emphasizes the love she has growing up Jewish. As an adult, her faith never left her. 

I was humbled to read Hurwitz’s experiences. I have a deep reverence for how the Jewish faith is observed. A practice I appreciated learning about is hitbodedut, which is going into nature and talking to God. This practice is uniquely united with the meditation of thought and entering an unknown place. Hurwitz details her hesitation to practice, yet how the practice informed her to receive the unexpected. I read this book at the beginning of the uprisings against racial injustice and to empower Black lives. The timing was powerful. I found myself feeling more connected to how my faith informs my values. 

Moving forward in faith: 

After the inimitable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, I was also humbled to read about the Jewish meaning of “may her memory be for blessing“. There is a continuous and thankful responsibility to keep her spirit and those we admire alive in our work. There are days when you miss the sunset, your adopted dog does their *business* all over your shoes, or someone grabs the last quart of your favorite ice cream. Inhale. Exhale. Remember, faith is a sharp moral compass. 

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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