Beyond Belief: Faith in Everyday Practice
There are very few truly non-believing people in the world. This is a belief that I hold, and I don’t know if it is right or wrong. What I do know is that out of all the people who have told me they are atheists, or even agnostic, I haven’t believed one. I think they mean what they say, but I also think most people believe in something beyond the material world, even if it is some vague form of destiny or mystical forces. Most of us have had some sort of emotional experience during which we feel the presence of something beyond ourselves.
I’ve long been interested in what comes after an emotionally charged experience of belief in God. The Christmas season offers ample opportunity for this as people who don’t regularly attend church might drop in to see a family member sing in a program or for a Christmas Eve service. Movies and sitcoms portray the wonder of the season with plotlines of transformation and good overcoming evil. All of this can serve as inspiration to believe, to have faith in something greater than ourselves. This is the easy part. The experiences that ignite the fire that will become one’s faith just happen. Faith put into practice on a daily basis is something that involves intention and courage. To deepen our faith and live life more fully, demands that we move beyond the rote definition of faith. As our brains try to make sense of why such terrible events occur in our world, we may have questions for God. As we pray diligently for a particular outcome that ends up the opposing way, we may wonder why. It takes courage to let these questions arise, and to accept that there may not be any answers.
Earlier this month, I heard an inspirational quote illustrative of faith delivered in a sermon:
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining,
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it, and
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”
The origins of this come from someone who was hidden in the basement of the cathedral in Cologne, Germany during the time of the Holocaust. Some sources report that it was written on the wall by a child, a child who clearly understood the daily practice of faith.
The spark for this blog was provided by a friend of mine who sent me the following article, a wonderfully well thought out piece, written by David Brooks in the New York Times.