Monday, January 22, 2007

As good a definition of "faith" as I've seen

Our daily, infinitesimal cruelties and compassions matter. If not to us, to someone. Everyone who ever benefits from my being in the world owes an unwitting debt to the people who brought me back from the edge, and in turn, and in turn, in an endless fractal of human connections.

There is always someone resisting wrong and trying to do the right thing. Sometimes they are not there for us--there were many times I could have wished for two hands at my back in support, and found none. Sometimes we have to do the impossible and forgive their absence. Sometimes those hands have to be us, even when it isn't fair; it's the only way it will get better. It's a matter of risk, and of trust, often misplaced, but hope in this world is not optional--it is a matter of basic survival.

at Taking Steps.


antiprincess said...

most beautiful.

little light said...

...I get preachy sometimes.
If it weren't for the restrictions my current life has produced, I was going to go into the clergy, actually. It was what I wanted for a long time.

The funny thing is, I always figured "faith" was the part of the whole thing I was worst at.

belledame222 said...

i think that probably even for those raised in traditional religions, there's a lot of confusion over what the word is supposed to mean. like, it's supposed to mean rock solid assurance things are a certain way, or something. much less those of us who were raised without any sort of language for any of that stuff (my family's secular/agnostic/atheist on both sides reaching back at least three generations--everyone i know or knew, anyway).

but, these days i tend to think that it's exactly what you were talking about there. not being at all sure that the hands will be there, (and in fact maybe they won't be, this time), but taking the fall anyway. because there's this sense that even if the hands aren't there (this time), it's worse to never take that leap, that trust, at all.

little light said...

I think, even more, at least for healthy faith--that "forgive their absence" bit has to come into it.
But yeah, maybe so.
I'm reminded of something Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote on optimism, now, that always blew my mind. I'll go digging.

antiprincess said...

If it weren't for the restrictions my current life has produced, I was going to go into the clergy, actually.

is it too personal/insensitive/tacky a question to ask how come this is so?

I mean, a calling is a matter of soul, not body, yeah? called is called.

The Clergy needs good people like you.

little light said...

This is simplified, antiprincess, but it goes something like this:
Called is called, but a girl's gotta eat.
I'm not the sort of person a lot of congregations want teaching their kids' Sunday school. It's unfortunately that simple--effective clergy work needs a support structure and financial backing, and the small handful of denominations that would be willing to give it to, well, me, wouldn't necessarily be able to offer me other freedoms I need.

The current plan is to teach, leaving summers and sabbaticals to do clergy-style work as a volunteer, with weekends doing hospital chaplaincy for as long as I can hack it. I'm just not that interested in getting people to believe what I believe; I just want them to be okay, and to look out for each other more.

That way, my on-the-ground applied work can make academic worth soulful and worthwhile for me, and the academic work can foot the bill for my helping people who aren't in the small group of folks who can be in my classroom.

I just need another degree or two first.

little light said...

*sorry, that's academic work, not worth.

And I should clarify--I believe in teaching, too. It's a project I'm devoted to. I'm just scared of getting stuck in archives and footnotes and losing hold of the greater community if I'm not careful.

belledame222 said...

That makes total sense, little light.

it was sort of the way i felt about going back to school for psych--wanted a degree i could, like, eat with, don't want to be stuck in academia forever.

the current plan seems a happy medium. let's hope it works...

antiprincess said...

I get that, little light.