“Faith is taking the first step…”
by Lynnette Ramirez
It’s the week of Passover, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. While not of Jewish faith or heritage, nor a practicing Catholic or Christian, I can’t help but think about what part tradition and religion play in my everyday existence. A few weeks ago I was at a coffee meeting discussing the mandate of my network when the conversation turned to belief. The young actor and producer I was meeting with asked, what did I practice?
This may seem like a personal question not fit for a business meeting, but in the world of Hollywood often times when sharing creative ideas, the conversation includes sharing personal experiences and sometimes even personal beliefs. I often times joke that I practice woo hoo because I do tend to subscribe to the laws of attraction, Eastern philosophy and downright wild ideas about multiple planes of existence and spiritual forces.
I was more than happy to answer his question more simply, as I’m very comfortable sharing that I don’t personally practice any form of organized religion. I don’t attend religious services outside of weddings, baptisms or funerals.
However, raised by religious parents, I do believe in a higher power that is bigger than myself. Therefore I still consider myself “a person of faith.” I also partake in celebrating religious holidays whether it is Easter with my immediate family or Seder at my friend’s homes as these holidays are part of culture traditions I have grown up with, or been introduced to by amazing friends I consider family. I have great respect for the history behind these religious celebrations and find the stories fascinating.
The scripture surrounding Easter, for instance, is one of my mom’s favorites. I also recall my first Passover dinner at the Kanter’s and how moved I was by the opening of the door for Elijah. Yet none of this exactly answers the question what do I practice, does it? It got my wheels turning as I know very simply what I believe and some about what others believe. But what does that mean in terms of how I practice belief in my everyday life?
After this benign meeting I started pondering this question more deeply. Recently while in Atlanta for business, I finally began to form an answer for how I practice my faith. It was a short trip and after my speaking engagement I met up with a friend that had moved there a few years ago from Los Angeles.
After engaging in some tasty southern grub, she asked if I wanted to see anything special while I was there. I had just a few hours before needing to head back to the airport. We settled on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It was there, admiring the eternal flame and snapping pics of Ebenezer Baptist Church that I knew exactly what I practice in my everyday life. I have such gratitude and admiration for Martin Luther King, Jr., who no one can deny walked this earth. While he isn’t an ancient religious idol, he’s an idol nonetheless.
I wish my answer were something more profound or specific but it’s not. My daily practice is always the same as it was in that moment reading over MLK, Jr.’s plaque on his gravesite, Practice gratitude and have grace for everything and everyone that crosses my path. No matter where I am or whom I am with, I try my darndest to be thankful for the experience, good or bad. I try to appreciate the beauty of a moment no matter how ugly it can sometimes be. I always strive to have compassion and find something good in everyone, even those I don’t enjoy or particularly like.
Seeing MLK, Jr.’s memorial and reading over his quotes I know, of course, I’m not always perfect in my practice. Sometimes I want to kick the person talking in the movie theater and I definitely use expletives for the jerks that cut me off on the 101-405 exchange. It’s nearly impossible sometimes when dealing with the opposite sex to believe all mankind is created equal. This is why it’s called a practice after all, right?
During this week of religious celebrations and cultural traditions, I will quietly celebrate my own practice to not only be grateful for all, but to find the beauty and grace in all. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”Tags: Atlanta, Cultural traditions, Easter, Faith, Hollywood, Lynnette Ramirez, Martin Luther King Jr., Passover, Person of faith, Religion practice, Religious celebration