The students I work with are adults, many with families to support. Their housing situation can be precarious, and some live in shelters. Those without a high school diploma have few work options and many take GED classes at HOPE.
When love is the summit toward which we are headed, fear is our biggest obstacle. Yet when we open our hearts to love, we are at the same time opening our minds and choosing love over fear as a guiding force.
"Mama, is God a girl?" Looking down the road, I can see that the questions are only going to increase and get more and more interesting. Years of explanations and serious conversations unfold in front of me, and I wonder how well I will do.
Years ago, I believed in a lot of things like heaven and God. And I was told that to really believe in them, I had to eliminate any kind of doubt. The problem was I'd study the Bible and doubts would creep in.
Under the terms of this deal, religion would be more humble about its teachings, acknowledging that they are sometimes wrong. When science confirms one of religion's guesses, it gives credit where credit is due for having "divined" the answer before it could be established beyond doubt.
My partner of 18 years died last year, and in addition to grieving the loss of his tender presence and our precious time together, I've watched helplessly as my spiritual foundations have crumbled around me. I wasn't prepared for this, and I'm having a crisis of faith.
You don't have to have an all-encompassing faith. Start small. Even if faith begins as a tiny seed, that is enough to begin with. In time, and with experience, that single seed of faith is sure to grow.
What is it that separates everyday trust -- everyday leaps of faith, even -- from the kinds of ironclad beliefs that inspire jihads; crusades; leper-kissing; cathedral-building? How does one become so utterly sure of an idea that rests on so many unproven assumptions?
The word conspire means "to breathe with." My hope and belief is that everyone can experience the beauty and healing power of Community. By embodying love actively and engaging the Beloved within ourselves, we can conspire to transform the entire world into a love-based Community.
On Jan. 28, 2010, I was tired, cold and hopeless. I was dirty, hungry and broken. It was impossible for me to help myself. Thankfully, the God of the Bible -- the God of love, grace and forgiveness -- knew that and He saved me from myself.
This attitude can have profound effects on our world and our deepest selves. By definition, if our orientation is toward pursuing truth rather than possessing it, we are admitting that we don't know, that there is a great deal left to learn and discover.
As a Muslim American parent, I have unique struggles in the post 9/11 landscape. But like parents of any faith, I want my daughter to find in her faith a place of comfort and security, a refuge from harshness.