“Faith” is one of those words that sometimes give Unitarian Universalists trouble. For those who were told again and again to accept things “on faith” or told that their questions were a sign that they did not have enough faith, the word itself may bring back painful memories, especially in a religious or spiritual context.
At the same time, we talk about faith in other contexts with less trouble. We admit to needing to have faith in ourselves, in our children, in our favorite sports team. We even admit (now and then) that we do accept some things on faith. We don’t insist on knowing every detail of medicine before we’ll take medicine that our doctor prescribes. We don’t ask poets to prove that love exists or that their metaphors reflect the exact nature of that love. Every day, for good or ill, we accept on faith that the media tell us the truth about what is happening in the world.
This month we’ll explore together the meanings of “faith.” What is worthy of our faith? How does having faith help us grow and flourish as individuals and as a community? What are the challenges to faith? What happens when our ideas about faith meet someone else’s (that may be very different?)
You can begin thinking about faith by reading through this month’s Soul Matters resources. You’ll find articles and books, movies, questions, and even exercises to try. In that spirit, I start you off with one of my favorite readings about faith. It’s called “Ours is a Story of Faith” and it’s by Elizabeth Tarbox:
I hadn’t walked in the morning for weeks, not since the snow started. So I walked into the wind and it numbed my cheeks and forehead, and I leaned against it and addressed my questions to the silver winter sun softening the ice on Monponsett Pond. What happened? Why am I so often sad and disappointed in myself? How come love has its dark side and feelings hurt and truth isn’t kind? Where is hope, and to whom shall I turn, what is faith? What shall I tell them, I said to the torn clouds, what shall I tell these good people who struggle as I do and fail just as often?
And it seems that the soft silver sun and the sound of the wind said, speak the truth, simply, speak your truth.
And so I say ours is a story of faith and hope and love. I say it is our need for one another that binds us together, that brings us limping and laughing into relationships and keeps us at it when we otherwise might despair at the fix we are in. I say it is the Holy we need, the eternal beyond our comprehension, and one place we can find it is here, working and worshipping together. And I say there is a transcendent value worthy of our loyalty, upon which we may set our hearts, and its divine manifestation is love.