June 12, 2009

Faith is Where You Point Your Flashlight

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable. — Madeleine L’Engle

What is your definition of faith?

There are dozens, some secular, some non-secular. But in the end, what seems to work the most reliably is to treat faith as a practice.

So here’s my definition of faith:

Faith is the practice of stepping into the unknowable while trusting that you will be able to respond appropriately, no matter what happens. Faith is the belief that, if you are completely present in all situations, that the right answer will arise by itself.

Practicing Faith

To be faithful is to practice — and be deserving of — trust. I looked up the word “faithless.” My dictionary provides a single synonym for the word: Treachery. Therefore, it can be said that to fail to practice faith is an act of treachery to oneself and the world.

Lou Reed once sang about needing a busload of faith to get by. And he was right: We have absolutely no way of knowing what will happen in the next five minutes, let alone the next five years.

Yet for the most part, we get to create the future we truly want by being where we are right now. Rock-solid, we get to see the potholes in the road ahead, but focus on where we want to go instead.

Isn’t that faith? Focusing not on potential disaster, but on the potential of keeping ourselves moving freely forward, the cool wind of life in our faces, enjoying the journey itself.

Faith is a Habit of Mind

Beyond practice, faith is a state of mind, an attitude about life. The target of faith can be a supreme being in which one believes, or it can be life itself.

Faith is a choice.

Faith is an anchor that can help us weather any storm.

Faith is a practice beyond and outside of either belief or fact.

Faith is the state of trust that makes civilization possible.

Faith takes place in the Creative Now. It resides only in the present, in the Creative Moment that is all potential. Faith is the ultimate cure for poor habits of mind.

Breathing in, I have faith.

Breathing out, I smile.

Even simpler, breathe in and out, saying one word to yourself:

Faith.

Sure life has its challenges, and more. Life, said John Lennon, is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. But practicing faith enables us to stand, to rise each and every time we fall, to know there is a lesson to be had in everything that happens.

Because faith isn’t blind, you see. It’s being fully engaged in life, no holds barred, giving yourself to the world simply to be of use.

That’s where illumination happens.

That’s the real miracle of faith.

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