Thursday, November 13, 2008

Faith

Faith, by its very definition, is hard to pin down. It is the belief that something is predictable, even if there is not conclusive proof of that likelihood.

Faith is not believing that the sun will rise tomorrow. That's pretty much a scientific gimme.

Psychologists refer to it as object permanence when the brain knows that a thing exists even after it is out of sight. Babies don't develop it for a while, which is why peek-a-boo is such a popular game. Like a goldfish circling in a bowl, every time through is a new experience. To know that the sun is shining even in the nighttime is not faith, it is object permanence.

Faith is more often used to explain a belief in the existence of a supernatural being, or a deity. People have faith in God, some have faith in more than one. I grew up Catholic, so we had faith in God, but spoke often to the saints so as not to bother the boss with our more mundane problems. Big stuff, like births and deaths and scary accidents and sicknesses, those merited a direct appeal to God. Lost car keys? St. Anthony can handle that.

I wonder how much of what we call our faith is really nothing more than an adult's Christmas list. Please God, let me get this job. Please God, save my marriage. Please God, let me win the lottery.

We bargain with God, too, which makes me think we don't have a lot of faith if we have to try to bribe him with our promised good behavior. Please let me get this one thing and I promise I'll go to church every Sunday. Please God, let me live through this and I will devote my life to charitable acts. Please God, let me make it home alive and I promise I'll never drink again.

What use has God for these paltry offerings? Faith is not rewarded based on the barter system. Faith is rewarded by life, and sometimes the strength to get through it.

Faith is its own reward, sometimes. I have faith in a power greater than myself, although I no longer adhere to the old white guy with a beard persona issued to me in my Sunday School lesson books. For a crowd that fought so hard against pagans and witches and such, they sure pictured their version of the deity as looking a lot like Merlin from the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table stories. Just sayin'.

My version of my higher power is pretty personal and yet universal. I believe there is a power for good in the universe, and that it might be the universe itself. I believe in the power of this beautiful planet to heal itself of our insults and damages. I believe in the magnetic pull of the poles, of the ebb and flow of the tides and the changing of the seasons. I believe that rain falls down and it is good. Rain falling up would be problematic.

I believe that the more in tune I am with the heartbeat of the planet, the more at ease I am as I go through my day. I live where I see the ocean every day, and I treasure that. I hope to never live far from salt water again. The salt of the ocean is the same as the salt in my tears and in my blood. There is a balance, and when I do not try to fight it, when I do not try to bend the world to my will, but work with the natural flow of things, I can get much more accomplished.

Some say that God created this world for us, but I am more inclined to think that we were created for this world. We were created to learn and study and love and explore this great living orb. We were created to enjoy it but to preserve and care for it, too. Only I think we got that screwed up. We have become that rare creature that soils its own nest. We have work to do, I think.

I have faith in human kindness, in our creativity and our capacity for love and compassion. Some might say that is not a real faith, because I have seen those things exhibited before me with my own eyes. But I think faith comes when I believe that all people are capable of those things. That is not an easy jump. That is universalism at its core - to believe that there is inherent worth and dignity in ALL human beings. Even Hitler. Even Jeffrey Dahmer. Even Karl Rove. Somewhere inside, perhaps buried so deep that it cannot be found, somewhere there is something of value. There is a heart that beats and a childhood memory of happiness and joy. As adults we often spend a great deal of time making ourselves un-loveable, un-reachable, and very much alone. But I do believe that there is some good, and some God, in all of us.

I guess it goes back to what I was talking about earlier - how in tune we are with God's plan, with nature's plan, with the order of the universe that determines how we feel and how we are perceived by those around us.

I am tired now and need to sleep. That is part of the cycle that is life. We have a natural wake/sleep cycle as we have a natural eat/work cycle. The tides go in and out, the sun comes up and goes down, the world spins happily on its axis, secure in its perfection. May I awake tomorrow rested and ready for another day. May I work in harmony with the world instead of trying to run things. May I do God's will with my day as opposed to my own. Blessed be.

6 comments:

Th' Rev said...

Nice...

Distributorcap said...

wwell said

faith and spirituality - yes
religion (to me) - no

Queenie said...

beautifully written and right on target, sister of the salt.

Laura D. on MDI said...

Beautiful post babe- and might I add that I have faith in YOU! :)

Robin said...

I don't have a whole lot of faith these days, not in the traditional sense anyway.

I admire the convictions of those who do, even if I don't understand it. I imagine it is a great deal of comfort to them in times of need.

Stickthulhu said...

Very thoughtful.

I like your view of human worth, and you put that well. Everyone at one time, even if only for a brief period, was new and innocent.