विश्वास means faith in Hindu. Faith, fe, foi, fidem.
Faith, according to Hebrews 11:1, is ” the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.”
These days I find myself thinking about faith. How does one go about finding faith? It is so elusive and ephemeral yet so many of us turn to it in hopes its power will heal us, lift us, or simply relieve our burdens.
I recently saw an interview of a family who suffered the unspeakably violent loss of their grandchildren. When asked how they managed their emotional trauma, they simply stated: Faith. I dwelled on the word and recalled many of the families of the 911 victims who answered similarly when asked the same question. How, in the face of such calamity, can they maintain their composure? Faith.
Many years ago my grandfather came to stay with us for a few days. He was a devout Christian who pastored his own church in Puerto Rico. At the time, he was in his 80s and though he was a man of very few words, he lived a profoundly humble life of deep unwavering faith. He wore his faith like an armor which, despite the frailties of old age, made him stronger, kinder and wiser than any other man I’d known.
Everyday before supper he would ask for silence, and during that time, he’d pace our home, lost in a deep meditative prayer that would last quite a long time. Occasionally he’d murmur and wipe away his tears. I remember asking him what he thought about when he prayed and he answered he felt God’s presence during his prayers, and that experience made him feel peaceful.
A few years ago, a friend invited us to visit her church. B and I had recently had our twins and we felt it was time to find some sort of spiritual guidance in our lives. As we sat in our pews and listened to the choir sing powerful songs about faith in God, I felt a tightening in my throat that made my eyes burn with tears. The music was achingly beautiful, honest and stirring. Several people stood up and with their eyes closed, reverently raised their arms in the air.
Years have passed and I still have the same reaction when the choir sings. It stirs up feelings of angst that swell in my chest and threaten to spill in tears. The emotion pushes past my comfort zone and I feel compelled to run outside and avoid it altogether.
Yet I stay. I stay because somewhere inside that building I hope I might find faith. I hope that if I listen to the pastor enough, if I pray enough, if I walk the path that has been laid before me, perhaps I’ll come to know faith.
I’ve been told that when a burden is too heavy to carry, one must hand it over “in faith.” I find it is difficult to walk away from things and have faith things will settle down as they should. Aren’t we supposed to struggle and fight until the very end?
Perhaps I’m the proverbial sheep that has strayed away from the flock, and just maybe, if I can find my shepherd, these burdens will be lifted and our pastures will be greener.
Keep the faith.