Faith in a Fearful Time

Our Governor just signed yet another executive order, setting further parameters for what people can and can’t do.  The purpose is to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 which is replicating at a dramatic rate here in Massachusetts and throughout the nation and world.

Only essential services are open such as hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores and liquor stores.  The liquor stores in particular are doing a booming business as people try to cope.

Which of course raises the question, apart from self medicating, how best to manage the stress that we all feel?  Allow me to remind us of an ancient antidote to fear and uncertainty: Faith.

Faith is often taken for granted.  Some see Faith as a crutch, something to lean on, when you can’t make it on your own.  Others may see Faith as wishful thinking, what one cold war leader in the 20th century called ‘the opiate of the masses’.   Some suggest that Faith is a lazy substitute for scientific thought and reason.

Yet, for all these tropes, Faith remains.  Particularly during times of crisis.

Why?

For me, Faith is as real as the air I breathe.  When the illusion of control is taken away (such as now with COVID-19), what remains is Faith.  Friends in the recovery movement know this to be true.  They understand that their sobriety is based on the need for community and reliance on a Higher Power, according to each person’s understanding.

Faith is a choice. A stance.  A way of leaning into the uncertainty and fear of any given moment.  Rather than making one helpless, it empowers us to be engaged, to be involved.  At its best, Faith calls us to work for the common good.

The theologian William Sloan Coffin, put it this way:

I love the recklessness of faith, first you leap and then you grow wings.

Faith reminds us that we journey not alone, but in the company of that which is greater than oneself.  That which is greater, goes by many names: Wisdom/God/Spirit/Creator.

Cultivating Faith is simple and profound. Faith invites us to ‘take a leap’, to open oneself to an eternal  source of wisdom To let go of the illusion that we are in control and rather, that there is presence, a Source that wants us to be well.

To believe this, is of course, a choice.  Yet, if we say ‘yes’, when we open ourselves up, then all things become possible.  Hope and healing become real.  Just ask a friend or family member in recovery, they know this to be true.

This time in life, with COVID-19,  is a time full of uncertainty and questions. Yet, we journey not alone.  We journey in the company of one another and with that eternal Spirit, the source of all that is good lasting and true.

I believe that God knows us by name.  In my Christian tradition, I take to heart the words of Jesus: “Whatever you do unto the most vulnerable among us, you do unto me.” Matthew 25: 31 – 46.

This is where I hang my spiritual hat.  These words give me hope and purpose.

What about you?  What do you believe?  Where do you turn for wisdom?

These are challenging times.  May you find a Faith that sustains you and offers hope.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

Risking Everything

Life is full of risk.  This feels particularly true in our uncertain and chaotic time.

The nature of risk is to calculate the best course of action.  Sometimes the path forward is clear.  Other times uncertain.  Sometimes we have good options. Other times not.

We awaken at 3 a.m. working our worry beads as we seek to discern the best path forward, as we struggle to understand (and accept) what we can control and what we can’t.  The concerns we carry are legion: health issues, well-being of loved ones, concern for institutions and causes we hold dear.   We worry over the right path to take.

In the midst of my worry, I came across this poem by David Whyte.  It is a call to ‘risk ourselves for the world…to hazard ourselves for the right thing’.

WE ARE HERE

We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world. We are a form of invitation to others and to otherness, we are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter, for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds. And in all this continual risking the most profound courage may be found in the simple willingness to allow ourselves to be happy along the way….

From ‘LONGING’ In CONSOLATIONS:
The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
© 2015 David Whyte

The poem ends with this line ‘in all this continual risking the most profound courage may be found in the simple willingness to allow ourselves to be happy along the way….’

Uncertainty is a given.  The willingness to risk for a cause we believe in is our choice. So is the choice to be happy in the midst of the uncertainty.

For me as a person of faith my ‘happiness’ is rooted in the belief that God who is the source and author of love is with usWith us when we work our worry beads at 3 a.m..  With us when the path forward is uncertain.   With us when we risk for a  cause we believe in.

There are no guarantees in life.  We know this to be true.

But it is also true that in the midst of life’s uncertainty is the comfort in knowing that we journey not alone.  We look around and  find others to travel with, to work with, to risk alongside.

And for people of faith like me, we find strength in knowing that we journey not alone. A belief that the God who created heaven and earth is with us and goes before us, preparing the ground for that which is life-giving.

The theologian William Sloan Coffin offered this:

I love the recklessness of faith….first you leap and then you grow wings.

It takes courage to take a leap of faith.  William Sloan Coffin’s metaphor promises that wings will be provided when we need them the most.  When we feel vulnerable, anxious, uncertain.

None of us knows what the future holds but faith reminds us that we journey not alone.  And this graces us with moments of happiness along the way. Even in times of uncertainty and risk.

That’s good enough for me.