I’m coming up on an anniversary. A year ago this week, I was laid off. What a year. I have gone through nearly every emotion in the past year. I’ve had moments when I sensed a loss of faith. At times I’ve experienced depression and great anxiety, my stomach even slightly turns as I write. I’m not ready for chewable “real fruit flavored” calcium tablets yet. They are nearby though, relief in a plastic bottle and a subsequent cotton mouth.
My dear darling cousin posed a question a few days back, “What do you do when your faith dies?” I guess she wanted to ask someone who is well practiced in such experiences, as I know what it is to have faith die… many times. I’ve also experienced faith reborn, most times.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost faith at some point or another. Loss of faith comes in many sizes and degrees, yet we all experience it. This is one of the common things which can help bind us together. I think we all travel the same path in the life of our souls, only under different circumstances and at different paces, as though we are walking to the rhythm of a different song in our heads and hearts. Yet we all pass by the same road markers as we move along. Sometimes we end up in a ditch by the road and folks pass us by until we hear someone’s encouraging word and take a helping hand up.
I really don’t know what’s going to happen over the next several weeks. They will be hard, trying to make rent, pay bills and find work, me and 9,999,999 other folks. In these times, I wonder how many of them like me have asked themselves, “Where is God, ‘cause he ain’t in my checking account.” But I know better in my heart of hearts.
Augustine described the relationship of Trinity as “Lover, Beloved and Love”. I also see the Trinity as a template of our bond as God, Me and You, a simplified form of “love God and your neighbor”.
Relationships are where I find the Spirit to be alive. Relationships are being alive.
What for me has been restoration of faith has been found in the healing of the stubborn insistence to love and be loved. I've also found that when my faith has been lost or died, what was lost was faith in things or ideas, hopes or desires ("good" and "bad) which had no final bearing on loving, our godliness.
For me loving relationships are testimony to the reality of God, the first love, the miracle of that which has no meaning other than the sacred irrational decision to participate in love. The answer for me to keep going is simply to keep going, to not dwell in the place of anxiety, but to again keep moving to dwell in the sacred place of relationships, God, me and you.
The past year has been horrid economically. It has been a year full of anxiety, a year full of self-doubt.
It has also been one of the very best years of my life. I have been emptied out and filled with something new. I have done volunteer work. I have been in self-examination, doing what therapists call “the work”. I have discerned. I have studied and meditated. I have written poetry, a lot of poetry. I have also had more time for family. I’ve had more time for my parish family and have become very involved there. My dog Faldo has been very happy too, having me around more. In everyway but one this has been one of the very best years of my life.
The only way to explain it is in my growing relationships, the wonderful beautiful people the psalmist describes as “being gods” who have reached out to me and given me the amazing ability to reach back. I still have a lot of trouble asking for help, but I’m better as I realize our foundational prayer is comprised of requests for help too, so it really is OK to ask for help.
I am reminded in the past year that God also resides between us, in the otherwise empty space we fill with compassion, love, help, hugs as needed, and much needed laughter, the sound of angels singing. In God’s nature, God is compelled to fill emptiness and we are the vessels used to pour out Spirit to each other. We are filled; emptied, filled again and so it goes. So many have filled my emptiness for which I’m so grateful.
I have toyed with virtually every form of pleasure seeking, but have never found anything that feels as good as love, loving and being loved. The relationship of love with others is unmatched. I have been determined to fill others likewise, as I can. It feels good. I don’t know what the future brings, but I’m confident that I am being loved for something other than my employment or economic status, which could be the best part of this past year.
Much has died in the past year. With the love of Spirit and with the love of the many who have shared their love with me, much has been reborn.