My Independence Day was spent exploring religious freedom as part of a field trip at camp Legacy. I started my morning waking up early and getting dressed so I could help one of the participants get ready. I wheeled her around and spent the day with her and another girl who was unable to walk at a fast pace. We visited 3 places of worship and participated in as much as we possibly could to fully immerse ourselves into a different culture and religious practice.
Our first stop was a Shia Masjid and it was the most similar to Ismailis; the only major difference was in our history, in their belief that Imam Ismail is the last Imam, but they still emphasize the main major beliefs we do. It was truly a beautiful place with welcoming people. The advice we were given was to be proud of who we are, as we are, and that we need not search elsewhere. God has created each of us unique and with a plan, so we must embrace it and trust in it. We must also work hard to be the best in every aspect of life and not settle for average and mediocre lives. (One of our members collapsed and fainted next to me, but I helped as much as I could and it went very well, even though I was scared it could’ve also gone very wrong)!
Because that took longer than planned, we didn’t spend much time at our second location, the Baha’i temple; however, the time we did spend was worth it to get a private tour of the beautiful temple and learn about the emphasis on unity. Unfortunately, I stayed busy with nursing related tasks nearly the entire time, and did not get the opportunity to learn and explore as much as I would have liked- I am most definitely going to research this religion further and gain a better understanding of what it stands for.
Lastly, we went to the Sikh place of worship called a Gurudwari, and again had an amazing experience. We dove deep into the faith of Sikhism and found that the core concepts of one God, eternal soul, balanced lives, and compassion were embedded into even the religions I thought were furthest from my own beliefs. Surprising positives were that they had music and a parade, served snacks and food directly to us all, I played with an 18 month old and taught him how to put a cap on a pen, and even rode in a dark elevator-like box and survived. The entire day was truly a beautiful experience, as there is nothing better than seeing so many new places, faces, and cultures express their devotion to God and allowing us to join with loving and welcome arms.