“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy. There’s a reason we refer to ‘leaps of faith’–because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable…. If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be–by definition–faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play with my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water.”
This past weekend while en route to Warmwaterberg hot springs in the Klein Karoo in a hired Landrover that was chugging noisily for 6.5 hours eating diesel and making talking above a yell impossible I was re-reading Eat, Pray, Love which I first read a year ago.
In the midst of the noise and heat and dust and rattling and toilet stops and junk food stops and photo opportunity stops and testing R on his Xhosa for a test next week I discovered the above quote and with it a real Aha moment to quote Oprah (who does annoy me but the phrase works so I’ll use it).
I honestly don’t remember reading this bit last time but then I was on a month’s holiday in Bohemia, Czech at the time and reading entailed lying beside a swimming pond drinking Pilsner and dozing off between sentences so that’s not too surprising. But this time around I literally stopped short and re-read these lines, and re-re-read them. I then dog-eared that page (this did not go un-noticed by G who as I’ve mentioned before finds book-abuse unforgiveable) and returned repeatedly to re-re-re (how many re-s are we on?) read it because it echoed so loudly my own feelings over recent months.
It seems to me more and more that to believe in any form of God is becoming passé – it’s like if you have a brain why would you even admit to wondering if perhaps there might be some higher power – increasingly, people I connect with on every level seem to assume that like them I will also laugh off the idea of a God – in fact people who do admit to having a faith are often ridiculed or even ostracised – i see people unfriending others on facebook because they ‘liked’ a page or group that had a religious connotation – there seems to be an intense dislike bordering in some cases on hatred of anything to do with God or those who admit to believing in God.
I should add that this doesn’t seem to apply as much to some forms of organised religion as others, but certainly Christianity is ripped to shreds at every turn. And yes there are religious people who for example call in to radio stations and spew racism and hatred and make any number of embarrassing statements and that can be toe-curling to say the least. But why are all Christians tarred with the same brush? And yes many despicable things have been and continue to be done in the name of different religions. But again, why the vitriolic hatred of an entire faith-based belief?
There is the other side of the story – where people embrace any and every New Age belief (often these are fans of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book) and I admit that sometimes these individuals can also be annoying with their aura readings and angel guides and stuff – but even if they attract some mockery they seem to get off more lightly than those who have a more traditional faith in God. So to call yourself spiritual you may get away with, but don’t bring God into it.
As for me, for the past 20 years I have struggled with the scientific or non-scientific aspects of beliefs/ faith. I want(ed) facts, proof and certainty and was unable to follow blindly in the beliefs I’d been taught as a child. And I think that’s a good thing – I think when people follow anything blindly and stop asking questions there is little true faith involved. In the church it seems many people are hushed when they ask questions, but to not use your brain is just a form of fear – don’t look too closely or you will spot gaps.
I think that this weekend has brought me to an end of the skeptical phase of my journey to connecting with God. Not that this means I have no questions or am choosing to ignore them – but I feel I am at the place where I want to walk face-first into the dark despite my unanswered questions, and not be ashamed to say I choose to speak to a God I can’t see, and to listen to a God who I cannot hear with my ears, because that’s where I am at – ready to set down all my nitpicking and just say ‘ If You are there, or if You’re not – I am going to speak to you. If you choose to answer in any way I will be listening.’
*waits to be unfriended and unfollowed – and frankly doesn’t give a shit* 🙂