Scintilla prompt: Talk about an experience with faith, your own or someone else’s.
Let me begin by saying that I am so not crazy about responding to this prompt, because the word Faith makes me think of Religion, and Religion and I are no longer friends.
The novelist and born again Christian Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. I think Anne is a Christian with a little c and not a big C, because she’s not crazy or mean or anti-woman, and she actually believes in “all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like”. By Christ-like, I mean like the guy who, by all accounts, was a story teller. Jesus told stories that had lessons embedded within them invoking goodness and morality.
By all accounts, Jesus was a teacher, a healer, and a lover. By some accounts, he made miracles (and I believe this was what got him into trouble). In his short lifetime, he spoke of love, peace, compassion, tolerance, patience, and kindness. And this is why I’ll tell the Christmas story to my children with a little c approach, because I cannot believe in Big C Christianity — more and more Big C seems to go against all of the virtues about which Jesus told stories.
Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” That’s hardly news, but I think of his words when I contemplate Faith.
The thing about Faith is that I really want some.
But my son would say, “Mama, you’re just not sure of the directions” (we’ve gotten lost in the car a time or two).
He is correct. I do long for Faith, and I don’t know the directions. I admire those who hold a gentle, sincere belief in something greater than a weary humanity on this troubled planet, and proceed to live their lives in a humble, gracious and community-serving way.
I’ll give you an example of how Faith eludes me. One day I specifically sought my sister’s spirit on a riverbed. I prayed, and I convinced myself that due to the special relationship we had when she was alive, she would reveal her spirit to me and we would continue our dialog. It didn’t happen and it was very disappointing. It’s not to say that I didn’t, or don’t, receive signs of her presence in my world. I do (actually, I have received a total of two, but they were both incredible experiences).
However, the idea of just believing, just “having faith” that she’s out there and there’s a better place for all of us in the end isn’t easy for me to get behind… it’s not that I don’t want to. But it’s not like finding a pearl in an oyster. Or is it?
I once contacted a woman who practices soul retrieval. Soul retrieval is the process by which one reclaims his or her soul, which has been lost due to a traumatic event. It was an unfamiliar and rather bizarre practice, but I was up for anything that would make me feel better at the time. To make a long story short, when the woman explained that I had to first pay her one thousand dollars for retrieval of my (supposedly lost) soul, I ceased contact.
When I described the experience to a good friend (a woman of amazing goodness, a beautiful and loving spirit who practices Reiki and meditation), she assured me that my soul had never been, and could never be, lost, and I felt immediate relief.
You cannot put a price on one’s soul. Then again, this is how the woman in the business of soul retrieval makes a living. She’s got a website, clients… what a strange world we live in.
You see how the directions to Faith are complicated? I know some of you are shaking your heads, thinking it doesn’t require such thought. Just believe.
How did I go from honoring the story-telling healer from Bethlehem to soul retrieval quackery?
Like the kid on the Polar Express, I want to hear the ringing of the bells year after year, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. In the meantime I’ll remain a searcher, and a seeker of knowledge, both worldly and spiritual. Thanks for reading.