A WHISPER ABOUT HEALTHY FAITH
Have you ever noticed that the significance of anything human or earthly can be changed by the way we think or feel about it?
A cat can soothe your broken heart and the very same cat can drive a neighbor crazy. The person you love may be hated by someone else and the person you hate is somebody's baby. Your dream is compelling and has all your attention—but it will not make the six o'clock news since it does not involve murder, mayhem or ruin. Is a leaf falling from a tree worth our notice, does it matter if Australia falls off the map? Does it really matter if you fall off the map?
I would like to propose to you the intriguing idea that healthy spirituality, worthy of our humanity, is the disposition to love things and people in such a way that we make them bigger and better by our faith in them. And faith is our creative ability to see things as lovely, as important, as having far more potential than we usually think.
For some of us, it may be difficult to think about faith in this way because the topic is surrounded by loony tune imaginings, religious wars, ignorant know-it-all people, and a thousand obscure arguments.
Or maybe someone, in the guise of the faithful, has scarred your soul deeply. If the latter is your case, you have my deepest sympathy that someone took what could be lovely and beneficial (faith) and turned it into an instrument of oppression, harm and abuse. Quite likely, faith's comfort may never be heard by you, and a forthcoming touch of grace will be anticipated as the grip of an enemy.
It may be helpful for you forget the word "faith" altogether and substitute notions like big love, creative challenge, potential imagining, and attentive expansion. Or it may be helpful to tell you about my view of God, with the proviso that you understand I was once a serious philosophy student and find it very difficult to believe in anything. Philosophy rips everything to shreds. I once seriously doubted my existence, but that is another story.
I believe that God is the Big, big love that allows us to be, that allows us to live in this tapestry of beauty and pain where we can play and struggle and think and grow and, above all, see that there is more to that bird, that rose, that person, and that country than we ever knew. God gives us the more that allows us to be creators and makers of more—and the freedom that also allows us to sit and do nothing and to even make misery. And so in our terrible freedom we can drown the cat, blow up Australia, and cheer when you fall off the map.
Good faith is the viewpoint that we contain multitudes and that nothing is small, though we can make it small. Faith is possibility, glory unseen and now glimpsed in the very road we are on.
I have to tell you that when it comes to faith, and most things human, I believe in whispers and those who whisper. A woman tells me in a hush that when she was a little girl abandoned by everybody she prayed for God to show up for her and that night an angel appeared in her bedroom and told her everything would be alright—and it is the hush in her voice more than anything that has me listening, that has me convinced that there is more going on that meets the skeptical eye. A teenager tries you sorely and then one day you see her playing the piano with a soft touch and a gentle hand and the whisper of promise takes your breath away. A man cries over the woman who has broken his heart and you hear his cracked, hoarse voice whisper his pain and you suddenly see the staggering depths of both his humanity and the rules of love that need to be revered. It might be enough to make you think that Divinity made that man and those rules—and that it is not all an accident, a tale told by an idiot.
And yet all of this can be so easily dismissed—"the woman is a nut, the teenager is still impossible and the man is feeling sorry for himself"—or even missed altogether as we shout and rush amidst these quiet movements of grace. It is hard to hear a whisper in our noisy world.
I believe that faith is hearing those whispers--whether it be in our praise of life's goodness, or in our lament at its brokenness and misery. And I believe, most of all, that the very best thing we can do for each other is to make more of each other and more of everything. An angel is supposedly seen. A piano is played. A man cries and the depth of the rules is noted. We can make much of all this or we can make little of it all. To me, faith is about making more and that is my whisper to you.