How so very strange to have old memories that go way back in time to rooms with high windows and desks in rows and the smell of chalk. How peculiar to conjure up visions and facts about myths and Zeus and Roman gods. How startling to suddenly find myself in the very concrete place of their essence. My guide said we were going to the Temple of Pan. As a tourist, I surrender myself to new places and new things. Pan? Pan was a drawing from an eighth grade textbook, a man with the features of a goat. He was creature who played some sort of flute and represented the wild, nature, fertility, mischief, and spring. He wasn’t real but something very vivid I had memorized for the test on mythology at the end of a chapter.
The setting was right. We walked along the edge of the water. A fitting place for a wild creature of the outdoors. It turned out to be a spring, the source of the River Jordan. I was enchanted.
And we came upon something huge and impressive, the remains of the Sanctuary of Pan.
How surreal on that blue sky, amber lit day to so clearly witness what was left of 19 BC place of worship built by the Herod to honor Caesar Alexander and the Roman gods.
The Romans of this time worshiped many different gods, almost all with a connection to nature. Their practices were pagan and by today’s standards very crude.
I wonder, now that I am back home in supposedly a civilized modern environment , was God at The Sanctuary of Pan. I was taught during my Catholic upbringing that God is everywhere and has been since the beginning of time. If an old woman, just like me, had sat by the the spring that fed The Jordan River back then in 19BC, would God be with her or would He decide she didn’t count because she didn’t worship in the right way?
I wonder about the ancient Native Americans who said prayers of thankfulness instead of petitions of want. Was God with them or did He think they were too primitive?
I wonder about my Muslim friend in India, Rashid, who told me we are all united by the God who created us all. Is God with him or has He chosen to dismiss Rashid’s method of worship?
I wonder about my gay friends who have lovingly married their partners. Is God with them or is He withholding His love because of their love?
I wonder about people in other political groups or countries. Is God with them or is God a political creature who takes sides?
I wonder about myself, an old lady without a religion who has done a lot of bad things and will probably do more. Is God with me or has He given up because He sees me as unworthy?
Like the old lady who sat by the source of The Jordan river before the birth of Christ, I, too, look for God.
In the stillness, I find Him. He is always here. He is with me. He chooses to be with us no matter who we are.
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