I’m reading a book (“I Still Believe”, by Desiree Woodland) about her struggles to regain her faith (that an all-knowing God is still caringly in charge and present in her universe), after her son was taken by the scourge of mental illness. Her book, written in tremendous grief, tells the story of how she was able to claw her way back to her lifelong faith in Jesus and a Christian God.
Reading her book, I felt glad that such faith is able to heal her shattered life. But I realized that, although my faith in a greater reality that cares for me and watches over me has also been shaken, I lack the background, or the acquired affinities, which might allow me to relate to a Christian God or to Jesus in that way.
Her example, her struggles, and her winning through to a renewed belief in an all-embracing deity makes me yearn for a comparable recognition that there is also, in my life, an ultimate protector and source of greater meaning that I can learn to call upon.
As I ask myself where I might find this universal kindness and caring, in the context of my present life path, I recognize that I have been influenced by ways of thinking and feeling, in which ‘open wondering’ feels more true to my limited consciousness than any firm conviction, certainty or belief. I ask myself: for the sacred to manifest in this world, do I not have to look for its presence in the life I am already living?
I wonder how my own ‘belief’ pictures are faring, as an individual who feels adrift from both the eternal and the clicking of the clock in the next room? When the barking of dog in a distant yard, and the nearby wind chimes greeting the passing breeze, give evidence of a realm that is always just passing through–which never sticks around for very long—why would I ‘believe’ that an eternal and abiding presence is standing by?
Viktor Frankl, in “Man’s Search for Meaning”, said that those who survived their years in a concentration camp were those who had a reason to live. That tells a sad story about those who didn’t survive, but it feels like a wake-up call for those of us who are still here.
I am looking for that reason to live. Not that I don’t appreciate my relationships, my activities, and my connections in time and space–all weaving a spider web from which I launch forth into whatever shows up each day. But the human heart cannot live with only worry and obligations, with only fear about the future and regret for the losses of the past.
It feels that in order to be fully present in “this moment”–to perceive the eternal in the passing winds of time–we must be looking that way already. It feels that to experience the presence of a greater goodness and truth—which is reaching out towards us, ready to cradle our being in a great love and forgiveness—we, in our small being, must already be reaching out too; ready to have our confusion and lostness gathered up in the arms of a great Being, who, we hope, has always been the true home to which we yearn to return.