I remember having a conversation with my father some years back when gay marriage was still being legally debated and my dad, a self professed grumpy old mad, though deeply exaggerated in my opinion, had a hilarious opinion that I had not heard before. He was frustrated that the homosexual community hijacked a word that my father was very fond of. He was born during world war II and so was very used to the word gay meaning happy. You see, he is a wordsmith, a writer, an avid reader, he read the entire oxford dictionary as a child a few times over. He loves words. He had many homosexual friends over the years and had no desire to tell anyone else how to live their lives, he just missed his word.
This was partially his kind of humor but in that same vein I would like to reinvigorate some words that I have found to be useful outside of the triggering meaning imposed on them. I have been reexamining some vocabulary that the taught meanings just don’t feel like they fit and am attempting to redefine and reclaim them as stepping stones to a deeper understanding of life. Faith is the perfect example and a good place to start.
Faith has gotten a bad reputation in some circles. The very mention of the word can create a wave of eye rolls across dinner tables. For a moment here I would like to focus on how faith feels good to me and a different possibility for its meaning or translation.
Growing up religious the way faith was presented to me and to, I believe, many other people was almost like the frustrating parental because I said so answer. From the religious perspective you were presented with this one story and you were told that it was true and if you questioned it in any capacity then you were told to have faith. So faith became this place holder for accepting what someone else said as truth, or a glossing over of any questioning. The real crucial factor here is that this one story always eliminated any other possibilities. You had to have faith that this one religion is and was the only story, the right story. For some it works well. For others like me it doesn’t quite fit.
What I have come to realize is the many ways we as humans know innately the flow of the infinite, we are surrounded by it everywhere all the time. Time itself is infinite. We have this one narrow point of view in what we call time and yet it goes on beyond each of us, beyond this very personal experience. We all see and know death on a regular basis. From dead bugs, dead animals, dead frogs, dead grass, dead trees, dead humans, and so on… We see death everyday that in many instances we are numb to it. Even though it is an individual end or perceived end of that individual we also see more life, more birth, more anew. There is this obvious and innate sense of the infinite and in contrast we’re told that there is only one. There is only one story that could possibly be true to explain all of existence and you have to have faith in one human’s translation of it, one filter, one interpretation of this one story. This request really contrasts and goes against our innate infinite flow knowing. As a result the word becomes uneasy because it feels like the request for faith in the specifics of one story and the knowing of the infinite are both moving in opposite directions.
Hence faith gets a bad reputation. When you’re reaching for that indescribable feeling or clarity of knowing being told to just have faith feels insufficient. Somehow one person, a human like everyone else, is more correct than that person with another belief system who is also human. Faith became attached to religious zeal and this sense of a struggle, leaving a dis ease with the concept and its far reaching implications.
What I have come to know faith as in my adulthood differs greatly in one respect, its simplicity. It is a feeling that has no other allegiances. Faith has a place within the infinite flow and can be seen as such. Faith can be a simple faith in the infinite flow itself. Faith within yourself, within your immense ability to focus, your power to create, your drive for clarity and your inspiration. Faith can be as easy as breathing.
I have come to think about it like this. When you are born and up until you learn about biology you breathe. You breathe all day every day, throughout the night while you sleep and you rarely think about taking action to breathe. As a child you don’t even acknowledge it, you just do it. There’s an acceptance of this act of breathing without actually needing to know the intricacies or the functionalities of what is happening. One day you are introduced to biology and the study of our physical bodies. You learn about oxygen in the air and your lungs and their ability to transform that oxygen and use it as fuel for the very cells that run throughout the whole of you. Your entire body benefits from this ability to breathe though up until your biological education there was an acceptance of breathing, you didn’t have to know how it worked.
A similar comparison can be made with airplanes. Millions of us fly around the globe and even if we don’t fly ourselves we accept that one can cross an ocean through the sky. Flying is a very normal thing in this day and age. Yet many of us that have used or been on a plane before do not actually know the mechanics of how it works. We do not understand or could not build an airplane ourselves, still we simply accept that it works and utilize it for our travels. There is an acceptance and a faith that this machine functions. And if you were to deeply dive into the engineering involved in building a plane you could move from faith to knowing. This analogy applies easily and obviously to many of our society’s daily technology like computers, the internet, cars, and so on. Until you know how they work you have a certain kind of faith that they do.
Now, separate anything that any of us have been told in the past about religion or faith and set it aside for the moment. There is no need to fix your psyche or delve into the past in any capacity, just set it aside for the time being in order to recognize what faith really is. It is the sense and knowing that there is more than what our five senses can translate for us at the moment, just as there is more going on beneath the surface of an airplane that allows it to function. There is also more going on beneath the surface of our skin that allows us to live and breathe. There is far more going on beneath the surface of reality than our five senses can translate for us. It is a simple faith that there is more. It is a simple knowing that there is more.
This feels to me the only rational approach as nothing lives at surface level. Trees have roots, the earth has a core, there’s insulation behind your walls, wires behind your light fixtures and switches. Nothing lives only at the surface. There are layers to all of life, even the smallest particles. And so, allow faith to simply be a knowing of something that you can not yet explain.
Faith is an important feeling to recognize and call upon because it is a stepping stone to the depth and security of knowing. Knowing is that oh so desirable place of unshakable connection with one’s self and a goal worth marking. With that goal in mind let the word faith represent a feeling of connectedness that we are learning new ways to express. It is a glorious state of ignorance. You have not taken that biology class yet but you’re not opposed to breathing.