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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thanks for sharing your faith journey

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By Mary Kaye Ritz

On March 12, 2009, I sat in the tiny room of an oncologist's office and held on to the corners of the examination table for dear life. The room was swaying as he delivered the news.

I could see my husband's face drain, and felt myself leave my cancer-riddled body for a moment.

And then I prayed. "Please. Be with me."

And whoever/whatever as a religion reporter, I've learned that the name could be God/Allah/Buddha/life force answered me in the roundabout way that answers come. Gave me the strength to undergo chemotherapy and two stem-cell transplants. To make it to the graduation of my youngest son from college last month. To fight back this horrendous disease with all the courage I can muster, thanks to the collective love and prayers and good thoughts encircling me from every corner.

Then I read Annie Lamont, who writes that the corollary to the prayer "Please" is "Thank you." It reminded me to practice the greatest prayer of all, gratitude. To be grateful for every day. For every moment. For every breath.

Which brings us to now, the last Expressions of Faith column for The Honolulu Advertiser.

On behalf of the past and present staffers of the Faith page, I'd like to extend a thank you to all the readers who have been with us, on this journey and beyond. Thanks for letting us into your life and your diverse spiritual beliefs. Thanks for sharing your stories with us, so we could share them with the world. Thanks for indulging us in our attempts to cover the spectrum of Hawai'i's faith landscape, which not only covers the major religions but the unique blend of native Hawaiian spiritual practices infused with Christianity.

It takes an act of faith to talk publicly about religion. For many of our sources, being interviewed by a reporter was not a natural occurrence, but they believed in our cause. Some, like the retired teacher whose faith led to the canonization of Hawai'i's first saint, were intensely private people who overcame their natural inclination to practice their faith quietly. She knew, as we knew, that only by opening up her world would others understand it. Or the priest of the tiny temple in Pālolo. Or the imam who allowed a female reporter into the mosque. Or the Mormon spokesman who took time from his own wife's health battles to respond on deadline for an interview.

How do you adequately thank people for that?

Please know that the honor of being entrusted with your stories is not lost on us.

And know that for me, personally, learning about the faith of those around me has given me the will and strength and power to learn more about my own spiritual journey, which in turn has sustained me through one of the most difficult times I could ever imagine.

Godspeed, everyone, on your own journeys. May the road rise up to meet us all.