In the chaos of this summer, I have pondered my faith. In the face of the unrelenting roll-out of tragedy after tragedy, grief after grief, what do I believe that speaks to the moment, that brings help and healing to me and to those around me? What energy do I find in my faith that moves me and others toward peace and wholeness?
I am wondering what the principles and precepts of the faith to which I am committed have to tell me in the face of centuries of tribal/feudal/racial tension. How do the tenets on which I have based my belief systems teach me to trust the Holy One in the face of uncontrolled violence, of rampant self-interest, of narcissistic egos that demand privilege? What does my knowledge and experience of faithful living give me to contribute toward the healing between people so intransigent and so fearful? Where can I find anything helpful to say or to do in the face of the searing pain of disease and of broken hearts? What words give comfort and heal the wounds and abuse of children in the world who are pawns in conflicts raging around them?
I am not helped at all by most of the rhetoric that is spun out in these painful times. Much of it, some of it from people who self-identify as representatives of faith traditions, is adversarial, divisive and pejorative. Some of it is simplistic and banal. And some of it is just mean-spirited. So I wrestle. Even some of the formulations of faith and doctrine which I have learned in the Church, which are held by communities of faith as anchors, are not always that helpful in the face of terror and abuse on the ground. I have written statements of faith at different times in my life. I have taught seminary students to be guided by confessions of the Church. Yet still in this moment I struggle.
In my wrestling in these dog days of August, I recovered these words that came to me in an earlier part of my life. Nearly forty years ago, one afternoon I was laboring to give birth to a beautiful child. As in most birthings, it was painful and long. On the wall of the labor room, I had taped up these words to the wall as a focus point, following the instruction of my Lamaze teacher:
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God even when God is silent.
I later discovered that these words has been found carved by a Jewish prisoner into the wall of a concentration camp in Germany. My struggles to give birth were to have a joyful ending, a life-giving treasure at the end. That prisoner had no such certainty, yet with those brief fragments of faith was able to hold on to something more, something bigger, something eternal. In this time and place I can claim that for the world that God loves too.
I do believe in the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) who will rise with healing in its wings. I do believe in Love, which I see most particularly in Jesus, who for Love’s sake gave away entitlement and privilege, and poured out Grace and Truth in life and in death. And I do believe in God the Spirit, who is Mystery, who does things seen and unseen in people, in systems, in the world. The Spirit is moving to empower, to heal, to protect…through the hearts and minds and hands of even those whose faith is fragmented.
Maybe those fragments are enough for such a time as this.