We are grateful for today’s guest blog post by Kerri Leigh Power

ShrineSister Julie’s recent post about crosses made me think of the small silver crucifix that I bought while in New Mexico last year, at one of the many roadside shrines that we visited. I love this little cross – it reminds me of our trip and the excitement and reverence that I felt visiting these sacred sites where so many had come before me to find stillness, comfort and connection to God.

Yet I rarely wear the cross in my daily life, and I wondered why. I think it has to do with a reluctance to display my faith openly. How would my cross be interpreted by others? What assumptions would they make about my ideas and beliefs? Do I want to answer questions, to invite strangers to categorize me based on their own understanding of what that tiny cross signifies?

And then I thought of another wonderful trip, our visit to Turkey last spring. Although Turkey is officially a secular country, the presence of Islam permeated our experience as Western visitors. No matter what city we were in, the Islamic call to prayer was a daily companion — waking us in the morning, accompanying us on our walks through town, and usually the last thing we heard as we drifted off to sleep. In every mosque we encountered Muslim pilgrims, men and woman, praying openly and with a complete absence of self consciousness.

It was the first time I had been in a country where faith is so much a part of the daily breath of life. And while I know there is infinite complexity below the surface of what I saw, I still envied the easy presence of spiritual practice. I envied the men and women I watched from my hotel window at 6:30 one morning, walking through dark rainy streets towards the golden light of the mosque. I envied the women I saw praying at the tomb of the poet and mystic philosopher Mevlâna (Rumi), oblivious to the stream of people passing behind them, their hands cupped towards their chests, their focus turned inwards.

I don’t think my faith needs to be always on display, like a piece of jewelry, but I would like it to be such a comfortable part of my daily life that I’m at ease expressing it before others, whether they understand it or not. I’m not sure how to do this though, and it’s something I continue to explore.

Do you ever find it hard to express your faith openly? What inspires you to do so?