Recently, my wife and I were listening to a well-respected, politically-based comic give a brilliant routine at a local venue. I was feeling completely aligned with his point of view and his values until he broached the subject of faith. I was aware that he considered himself an atheist, yet was surprised when he completely debunked the entire concept of faith. Explaining that he was raised Catholic, he became very cynical at a young age, associating faith with living blindly and giving all your power and decision making over to this old, bearded man in the sky known as God. It truly surprised me that he didn’t appear the least bit open to a broader interpretation of faith.
Perhaps I’m opening a can of worms with this inquiry because I’m not sure if it’s possible to consider yourself an atheist while believing in any definition of faith?
Over the years, my relationship with faith has deepened. As I’ve grown and experienced my share of joys, trials and tribulations, I’ve continued to deepen in my sense of relationship with a higher, organizing power that governs all things. I’m not attached to a name for this power, whether it’s called God, Allah, Adonai, Universal Intelligence……. I simply know that my relationship with this perfect, cohesive organizing system continues to expand, and the greater that I let go and listen from a still, quiet and centered place, my life balances into greater harmony with all of the people, interactions and situations around me.
Years ago, I experienced a deeply painful period of loss, my marriage breaking apart and my mother going through a gut-wrenchingly painful death. I was at the lowest point I’d ever known, questioning the purpose of living without these two women. After months of living in a vacuum, I opened to the slightest possibility that life could get better, beyond what I was able to fathom in that moment.
What caused me to open to this crack of light, dimly shining into the darkness around me? Perhaps it was largely due to the loving community of family and friends that encircled my world. Perhaps it was partially influenced by a basic, fundamental belief that at the core of all life lays a state of loving harmony. I am clear that that because I chose to open and trust a broader definition of love, in each day, week and year of my life I continue to witness richer demonstrations of joy, compassion, and gratitude than I could have ever imagined possible at that time.
The choice to trust that goodness and love lie at the core of all that exists, even in the darkest of times, is my current definition of faith. I can’t imagine how isolating and lonely it must feel to not embody some semblance of faith in one’s life. My heart goes out to all people who feel cynical or distrusting that love’s light will eventually prevail over temporary darkness. Sure, we need to move our feet and be proactive when injustice is present, yet an ounce of faith can give us the added strength to endure beyond our seeming obstacles.
In retrospect, I thank this comic as he triggered within me a deeper conviction for living my own interpretation of a faith-based life, free from institutional dogma and morays.
Faith, it’s our choice…how do we define it?