Thursday, April 9, 2009

Questions of Faith



I am a person of faith, I am. Is it a perfect faith? Oh. My. God. Far from it. My faith is full of gaping holes. It is a landscape of tall mountains and sharp ravines. There are pure clear lakes, raging rivers and skanky swamps in the landscape of my faith. There are forest fires, volcanic eruptions. There are also peaceful meadows buzzing with chirping crickets, and clear skies spangled with stars.

Is my faith perfect? Hell no! But it is complete, it is whole. I wonder if I can explain this. As often as I believe wholeheartedly, I doubt wholeheartedly. As devout as I am, I speculate, wonder and dismiss. I shift my faith around all the time, reshape it to fit whatever state of mind I'm in. Some days I struggle with all my might to believe in anything. But there is never a day when I disbelieve. Does that make sense?

One thing I don't understand (probably because I've never achieved it) is perfect faith, something that never falters, not ever. I know there are people who have this kind of faith and I salute them even though I don't get it. There are even people whose atheism is flawless and perfect. That anti-faith faith blows my mind.

It occurs to me, though, that if my faith was perfect, I would not be so engaged in the dance of the spirit. There would be no need for the proverbial leaps of faith nor would I ever have to put my critical mind to the task of wondering. My faith is a worthy adversary that keeps me on my toes, makes me think and work every single day. I am so grateful for my imperfect faith. Thanks, God! I mean it, thank you.

51 comments:

Siobhán said...

Hi Reya - I have very much enjoyed your last few posts even if I might beg to differ about spirit guides, but probably only in the detail or perspective.

Your engagement with the dance of spirit is wonderfully creative. A similar expression I like to use is "dance to the rhythm of life".

Best,
Siobhán

JC said...

Love the pics of the sky and your dog. I like to hear the way you think !!!

Merle Sneed said...

Reya, I am sometimes mistaken for a fellow of no faith. I have faith in both the constancy and the ever-changing nature of the universe. God is simply not on my radar, except as a creative force, whatever than may be. As for a God that cares for me personally, I don't see it.

You're the best, if I haven't said that recently!!

Andrea said...

I agree with you 100 percent. My faith has to have highs and lows in order to work for me. But it's always there.

I love how you use words to paint a picture!

Butternut Squash said...

Perhaps you are stepping lightly through the middle way. What is funny to me is that it really doesn't matter what we believe, what ever is already is. We could not make the Sun revolve around the Earth no matter how many heretics we burn at stakes. Have I told you yet today how wonderful you are?

Washington Cube said...

Pup is sniffing around for his faith too...or another dog.

It makes perfect sense, to me. I've even lost my faith, through some nasty things, and had to go looking for it again. This morning I was lying in bed, thinking about being Joan of Arc. Naturally I blogged it...or about a phone bill.

I feel like you're finding your rhythms here, Reya. Ok...back to the flames of "trying" for me.

Reya Mellicker said...

Merle, you radiate divinity. I never ever think of you as without faith.

And I don't judge anyone - not anyone - about how they believe or disbelieve. Part of my faith includes a belief that the world needs diversity, including diversity of opinion about the divine.

Cube - Joan of Arc? Do NOT go there!! Back slowly away from the voices.

Gary said...

I am a person of faith as well. I feel strongly that I don't need to 'prove' it. It just is. And it dances around from here to there as well.

When I was identifying myself as a Born Again Christian in my late teen, early twenties, there was a night when I felt I had to prove my faith. It came when the holy spirit filled us and we were then expected to speak in tongues. I failed. I felt on the spot. Did I just make up a bunch of 'gibberish' or was it really supposed to fill me up and spew? I didn't understand. I remember going to the men's room for some quiet and praying for the magic to transform me. When I came out I still had nothing. Everyone looked on me with pity. I must not be filled with the holy spirit. In their eyes I was poor, sad Gary.

I was turned off by the whole thing and decided that the born again Christian thing was not for me. Faith, I now believe, is personal and should not be judged. I like your description. It is more in alignment with my own.

Amy said...

My father is part Native American and I grew up learning much about spirits and such. Even though I am an atheist, I still hold many of those Native beliefs near and dear to me, such as the belief that the Earth is our "grandmother" who nurtures us and through whom all life has come.

I love the dancing spirits. You are beautiful and unique and wise.

hele said...

"But there is never a day when I disbelieve. Does that make sense?"

perfectly.

and my faith and idea of a god keps on getting richer and more of the heart rather than the head the more i stretch towards it.

mary said...

I have it all as well - faith AND questions - but mostly faith in a grand design because it is all so perfect and what better time to witness all that but Spring. I had a friend who once said (in response to why he believed) "Well, I don't really understand everything - like when I flip this switch here the light on the ceiling will go on - but I have faith it will....and it never lets me down" somehow the simplicty of that always makes me smile.

The Family Julz said...

For about a year I intensely studied the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism, maybe I've told you before, but the main thing I got out of it, strangely enough, was to NEVER stop questioning. Evidently Krishna likes for us to think for ourselves to find Truth. And I believe everyone's God does too. I'm still trying to find a name for mine, but yes, I very much believe It is There. xoxox

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

I imagine that God (Mother God, for me) heartily welcomes that kind of engagement, for it tells her we are alive and full of spirit.

Ronda Laveen said...

The Ascended Masters must be the only beings who have achieved the state of perfect faith. And in ratio to all of the time of Homo Sapiens have existed on Earth, there are very few.

I always wonder how the priests who molest justify their faith.

kathi said...

I was challenged many years ago to study the book of Romans. I took a casual approach at the time but the more I read and cross referenced and studied the more my faith grew. I challenge you to do the same. You'll never be the same again.

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Hey girl,
I am glad to see you admit "My faith is full of gaping holes." I thought it was just me.
Thanks for this very thoughtful post.
Strange...today's word verification thingy is "elation".

Chris Wolf said...

I was always told by my grandmother that "the Great Creator LOVES your questions, dear. Keep asking them because she's big enough to take it. Ask away!"

willow said...

I think everyone's path to faith is different. Just like our lives are on various pathes. It would help if we could just Google a little map, though!

willow said...

typo...paths!

Lover of Life said...

I love how you take what is in my heart and put it into words. Wow!

Steve said...

I'm not sure anyone really has perfect faith. Most people are doubters on some level, whether they freely admit it or not.

John Hayes said...

The part about struggling but never disbelieving rings true-- how can one struggle to believe & also disbelieve? On a more or less unrelated note-- love the new masthead picture. Dogs can have the most soulful expressions.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, John. Took that pic today. I was warm and lovely and even though Jake wasn't really into a big walk, he was very happy to lie down in the grass and just hang out, sniff the air, look around for awhile.

Elizabeth said...

Gosh Reya,
I thought the second picture of the car was a spaceship........

Most religious people make a 'leap of faith' --
something I can't do - though I'm completely open to others making their own spiritual paths

only thing that makes me sad is when someone thinks/she/he has all the answers for everyone else
and can't offer them the same respect

The Family Julz said...

Jake's eyes are so full of love I can't even stand it! I want so badly to kiss that beautiful head. Lovely new banner.

Reya Mellicker said...

Some spiritual paths hold the value that theirs is the ONLY path. I know atheists who discount all people of faith (which includes pretty much everyone who has ever been born from the N. Pole to the S.Pole, throughout history). In a certain way, they are the most intolerant of faith.

But any intolerant branch of any faith (or anti-faith) is difficult to deal with. My way or the highway? How do you deal with it? How can you establish an interfaith dialogue? I don't have a clue!

Cyndy said...

Although I constantly experience a flow of scenes, stories, and explanations for this and that in my parallel imaginary world which sort of seem like signs and messages about something or other, when I think about a higher power I am quite happy to have no specific ideas or opinions about what is actually going on up there in the upper sectors of the spiritual world. I want to just feel that there are unlimited possibilites, because how could I possibly know otherwise for sure? I can only know what I feel, right? And that could change on any given day. So I actually like the idea of not knowing. I find comfort in accepting that there is something happening out there in the world beyond the realm of my imagination that is larger than life as I know it. I guess I like that feeling that the world is infinite. That sounds so weird considering the fact that I was raised as a proper Episcopalian. But I still have an appreciation for certain religious traditions, especially for all of the glorious music that was written to enhance the spiritual experience. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd rather not think about it too much because it might get in the way of feeling it as fully as possible. Of course I thought about it a lot just then, so that blows that theory.

I love your new banner. Jake seems like a very wise old puppy. He's got that look in his eyes.

crone51 said...

I personally have no faith. None whatsoever and the older I get and the more of the world I see the less I have. I have had people tell me that I would be happy if I chose to believe. What they don't seem to understand is that I have tried - I envy people who have faith- It doesn't seem to be a choice. I can't believe. I don't believe. I am more or less fine with it now , but what I am not fine with is people telling me that I am not a good person because of it. Obviously I am not accusing you or anyone else who has chimed in of that. But I get it every day. Atheists are hated. Why is that? Shouldn't believers feel sorry for us? Or at least just respect that that is who we are? The discrimination against non believers in the divine is fairly intense. I rarely tell anyone that I am not a believer . The reactions when I have are almost always negative. It strikes me as being very very strange. I will most likely get hate mail on my site because I admit to being one of the godless folks. Seriously. It happens. Quite frequently. Sigh.

Robbin'sMama said...

I look forward to your blogs. They always give me a lift or another perspective on life.

Ronda Laveen said...

Love the "new Jake" layout! He looks so wise.

Delwyn said...

The true test of any faith is how our life and its philosophy is shaped by it, and how we live, work and continue to wonder in a confidence knowing that we will never grasp the ineffable mysteries of the world.

Lisa said...

if something is 'perfect'- then their is no need to look anymore- having said that, perfect faith is not what i have becasue i am eternally, looking, questioning........a beautiful post REYA- you are one of my absolute favourite bloggers xx

Lisa said...

if something is 'perfect'- then their is no need to look anymore- having said that, perfect faith is not what i have becasue i am eternally, looking, questioning........a beautiful post REYA- you are one of my absolute favourite bloggers xx

Lisa said...

shite, i cant believe i just spelt 'there' wrong in my last comment- shit- no, certainly not perfect am I

karen said...

Great new green, springlike gold puppy! Faith - yes, for me it's something that keeps me going. Not in an organised religion way, though. I keep on rereading your first paragraph, love it! x

Tom said...

i think you have helped put a few things into perspective for me...thanks.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,
I agree wholeheartedly. Faith in anything is good. Even faith in not believing in anything is okay. I try to never judge anyone on their faith. That is the beauty of free choice. We all have free choice to choose what we want. And I wonder who is right, everyone always thinks they are right. I think we will find out when our spirit leaves our body. I have made my choice and others have made theirs. I can only love everyone. This is my choice.

Thank you Reya for another thought provoking post. Love the pics, always great and amazing. Jake looks happy in the grass. Is it greeen yet?

God bless.

lettuce said...

hi reya

do you think that kind of perfect faith is really perfect? i have my doubts

and i can identify with a lot of what you say here about the constant inter-movement of doubt and faith

describing it as a dance of the spirit is perfect

Reya Mellicker said...

Hey Crone51 I don't hate atheists! Not at all. I have really great friends who don't believe in anything. It's just hard to converse with them because our values are so different, based on such different ideas of the world.

Many Christians, too, believe (are taught) that Christianity is the only true religion, as are people of many faiths. It's that thought form of there's only one way to look at the world I find difficult.

But I respect everyone's opinion and take on the world. I believe the world needs diversity in faith as well as in the biosphere. I want to make room for atheism, definitely. I just don't know how to talk to you.

Very sorry to offend. It was not my intention.

Reya Mellicker said...

Mrsupole - you and I are on a wavelength. The older I get, the more I try NOT to judge anyone for anything. It's more challenging to connect with people whose values are very different than mine, but worth the effort I think.

Cyndy I love your infinite cosmology.

And Delwyn, is there anyone smarter than you? I don't think so!

Thanks again everyone for your great thoughts, and for taking the time to put them here in the comments section.

I feel so rich in blogpals. Wow!

Ralph Suarez said...

Hi Reya. What I like so much about your blog is your honesty. And in reading some of the comments, it is wonderful to find like-minded people, who feel the same way. I like to think of Faith as a tree. There are seasons where faith explodes in color, like the cherry blossoms. There are times when Faith is like the buds, we know it is there, small and growing but the doubt may cause us to miss the "bud". And sometimes, faith is like the bare branches, blowing in the cold, winter wind. Everything is hard, everything feels terrible and it is hard work to find faith and continue forward. It is in these times that great miracles happen, when we are more "open" and ready to find faith and embrace it.
Have a great weekend! You are the best!
Ralph

Ralph Suarez said...

And I forgot the autumn, when leaves fall from the trees...we go through life trying different philosophies, different paths of faith, sometimes all of this stuff may work for us and sometimes it doesn't...so, like the leaves, we drop what doesn't work for us. I want to believe that all of the "growth" gives us the "roots" so that when the times comes for a test, that we are so deeply rooted that no matter how strong the winds blow, no matter how hard the rain falls, we will always remain tall and straight, or like the weeping willow, we give and bend in the wind but after the storm passes, we are still standing tall.

And now, I really mean it...HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!! I love THE GOLD PUPPY!!!

crone51 said...

I wasn't offended, Reya. Just offering my view.

I used to be " spiritual"- Neo Pagan- ( after being raised as a fairly liberal Christian) but I let that go years ago too. Because of what I perceived as an extreme lack of evidence. I don't want to believe. I want to *know* stuff. Seems like Science is as good a tool as we have for figuring out what stuff is all about. Everything else is totally subjective.
For long time I called myself an agnostic, but when I realized the kind of God(s)/whatever that most folks believe in is something I do not and would not accept then I decided to be more out front about it. So many folks can easily talk about their faith and everyone cheers. Talk about your lack of faith and you get hate letters. Or worse. I hide my opinions a lot.

You don't know how to talk to me? I am not sure what that means. I am a human being with morals and values same as anyone. I don't see how being a non believer means that my values are so different that you can't talk to me. That's ...odd. Never mind.
I do, in this society feel like the perpetual outsider. Someone recently was talking about " Christian Privilege" in the US. I prefer to call it " believer privilege" If you are a non believer and admit it out loud you are suspect. Can you imagine the election of an avowed atheist as president? Me either. My husband is only a teacher but he would probably be run out of town by his school board if he admitted it.
I will crawl back into my valueless little amoral cave now. And I know I sound angry. I *am* angry. Not at you or anyone here, but at a society that has excluded me and my values (I think people should be kind,treat each other well, that war is cruddy, bigotry is lousy, etc. etc . You don't have to be religious to have those values, you know). I also think that folks should question things . Constantly.
Actually I find myself a little offended now by the " I don't know how to talk to you....". What does that mean? Do you only know how to talk to people who have faith? I don't have the luxury of only being able to talk to non- believers. There aren't many folks who will admit to it.

Reya Mellicker said...

Clearly this is not about anything I said. I value all points of view and believe the world needs diversity which includes all perspectives.

Because my faith is my foundation and cornerstone for all my own values, it's hard for me to find any common ground with atheists. The misunderstanding here is a great example.

Have a good weekend, Crone51. It's a free country and you can believe or disbelieve anything you want to!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Ralph! You, too!

crone51 said...

I am not sure what misunderstanding you're talking about Reya. If it is obvious then I am not seeing it. Can you explain that further? Thanks!

And I have to admit your last comment does beg the question: " do you only talk to people who share your world view?"

crone51 said...

ETA - and if in fact your embrace of diversity means that you cannot talk with a non believer then I question your embracing of diversity.

And I guess I won't be coming round again- would there be any point to it?

Reya Mellicker said...

Hey wait a minute. Please reread my comments, OK? What you'll see is that I respect all approaches and perspectives, and that because my faith is the foundation of all my values, it's hard for me to communicate with atheists. I talk to - and value my exchanges - with people who have different values than myself. Ask my friends!

Don't you think this exchange is a perfect example of misunderstanding?

crone51 said...

Ok, let me give this one more try ....

What vitriol? I felt and feel no vitriol towards you. Is it possible you are misunderstanding me?

And yes, I see that you say that you respect all perspectives but I also hear you saying that you can't communicate with Atheists.
look at it this way... What if I were to say " I can't communicate with religious people because they don't share my world view".
Or how about.. I can't talk to Christians our world view is too different. Or "I can't communicate with Spanish people , our world view is too different". And on.
How is that different than "I can't communicate with Atheists etc.... " Can you possibly understand how that would feel a little hurtful?

I don't have problemscommunicating with religious folks. Most people can find common ground simply because they are human and love and live and do human being sort of things. There is certainly more in life that folks have in common than not, unless of course they choose to see it that way.

What it sounds to me that you're saying is that you don't want to bother communicating with people who don't share your world view. Seems kinda sad to me. Please forgive me if I am wrong about that.

Also consider the fact that your comment way up thread " I know atheists who discount all people of faith (which includes pretty much everyone who has ever been born from the N. Pole to the S.Pole, throughout history). In a certain way, they are the most intolerant of faith." was what made me comment at all. It pushed a button. It's why I spoke up about my own lack of belief and the hatred that Atheists put up with . YMMV of course.
A lot of folks feel free to say things about Atheists that they would not say about other folks. I just felt a need to comment.

Susan said...

"It occurs to me, though, that if my faith was perfect, I would not be so engaged in the dance of the spirit."

Jacob wrestled.

Thank you once again for expressing truth in such a powerful way.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,
I left this comment at Crone51 and just thought it polite to leave you a copy since it is about both of your conversations and both of you too.


Hi there,

I rarely get involved in these conversations, but just wanted to let you know I would still talk to you. And I think what Reya is trying to say is that she just would not be able to talk about her faith with you and this seems to be a large part of her being and her conversations, which is just wonderful for me. She does talk about everyday things too, and that is also great.

Whatever you want to believe is fine with me. I will believe what I want and hope that is fine with you. But just want to say that they call it "Faith" because if there was proof positive it would be called "Here's The Proof". And sadly people of a different 'faith' can treat others very badly. Regardless of what you believe if it is not exactly what they believe, you are wrong. My faith is my faith. Their faith is their faith. Your lack of faith is your lack of faith. My belief that I do not need proof is my faith. Your belief that you need proof gives you your lack of faith. I know you think it is not a choice to you, but to others it is. Who is right about there being a God, who positively 100% knows this answer. The difference is that we have "faith" that there is a higher being out there all around us. Others need proof before they will believe.

But no matter what anyone believes about God or no God, there is love, but if you think about this one, is love a part of "faith". Oh well, you feel and believe what you want, and I will feel and beleive what I want. I would never hate you, because I would rather love you and everyone else. Hate takes too much of my life's energy to do that to anyone.

And so I will treat you the same as I do to everyone and say God bless.

I think I will post a copy of this comment over on Reya's site so as to spread the love around.

I hope those deleted comments were not mean, because "mean" takes up too much energy too. And I hope I made sense to you and others.

God bless again.