Friday, February 5, 2016

To Believe

Three year old Ezra notices a family photo hanging on the staircase wall. Everyone who was in the family at the time, who had been married or who had been born, is in the photo. But as Ezra notices, a few people are missing. Uncles yet to have married his aunts and cousins yet to be born...and someone else: himself.

"Where am I?" he asks his mom. Mom and Dad are in the photo and according to his perception of real life, they can't be there without him. They don't exist without him.

"You weren't born yet," his mom answers.

"Then where was I?"

"You were in heaven."

"Maybe I was at work."

Work is feasible. Heaven is not.

We've all had the same question. Where was I? For thousands of years, millions of people came and went, but where was I the entire time? Or was I, even an I? I get a brain freeze when I try to reconcile not existing. As a child, always at bedtime, I would churn and churn the idea of not existing. Or I would try to create the idea of eternal, or ask Where did it all begin? In my limited, three dimensional-only brain, I could not fathom life without beginning or end, yet as an adult, I can not fathom a life with a beginning and with an end. Yet, I still am unable to reconcile a logical explanation.

This then is faith.

One of my students announced to me that he was an atheist.

"It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist." This appeared to be a new thought, and he contemplated, but had no response. But to me, it's clear: to say that there isn't, is as crazy as saying there is.

When I don't understand a religious concept, I put it on the back-burner.  I wait and I hope for an answer. The answer comes. My faith is stronger, and to say it isn't true or it didn't happen seems more ludicrous than saying it is true or it did happen.

Line upon line, precept upon precept.  I look forward to finding faith in what previously seemed impossible. It appears before me like a staircase--each level attained by taking one step. When I look back, I see how many steps I've taken; I see how solidly the stairs are built.

I am absolutely loving the idea, the reality, the place in my life, for faith--that it is mutable, and like a balloon, it has a capacity to expand depending on how much breath of life I am willing to give.