April 13, 2009

Magical Thinking Not Required

“Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death.”  — James F. Byrnes

What would life be like if we could have whatever we wanted simply by thinking of it? Goodness knows there have been times in my life when I wished I had that kind of power.

There are those who insist that’s how the Universe really works. All we have to do is follow the magic formula and all will be well.

I’ve never actually known anyone for whom magical thinking actually works.


I do know people who have the faith of a mustard seed. Jesus of Nazareth told people that if they had even as much faith as a mustard seed, they could move mountains.

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It’s tiny. Yet one seed has a power so great that, when buried in the earth, it can work its way up to sunlight and fill an entire field in a few weeks.

We have a wild rose growing on the edge of our patio that teaches me about faith every day. I’m inspired by its tenacity, its strength, and its insistence on reaching up, up, up for the sun. And though its cultured relatives may have fuller flowers, the fragrance of the wild rose fills the air unlike any them. I can’t help but smile.

I can’t help but believe in its faith.

“Well, sure,” you may be thinking, “It’s a plant. It’s supposed to grow. How does that apply to me and my life?” Consider the growth of a human being — when microscopic sperm and egg meet, life explodes!

Faith is natural process.

The Tao Te Ching suggests we have faith in the way things are. Faith is the decision to let things be what they are without wishing them to be any different.

In this life there is a time for peace and a time of disaster. A time for laughter and a time for tears. A time for birth and a time for death. Life is precarious.

If I put my faith into things and the acquisition of “security,” my head fills with anxious thoughts. My chest tightens as though preparing for a blow.

No, I’ll put my faith into the movement of life. I’ll practice that faith by letting the world be what it is, and trusting that I, too, will expand and reach for the sun.

Just like the mustard plant. Just like my wild rose.

Magical thinking not required.

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