“But one resource is still left to man: a brotherly love and solidarity, a fearless recognition of the truth, untainted by praise or blame.”
I helped chaperone a field trip for my son to Mission San Juan Capistrano a few years ago. I hadn’t done any research on the place prior to going, so I didn’t know what to expect. It was lovely, but what struck me about it more than its aesthetically pleasing nature was the feeling of inner peace that being there invoked. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was about this place that stirred such calm in me at first. All I can say is that I felt that all was well that day. I was tasked with keeping up with other people’s children far away from home and wasn’t the slightest bit stressed. No anxiety, no worry—I just knew all would be well. I know now that what calmed me was that a faith energy permeated those grounds, and I had been washed in the divinity that results from successfully being present in that space.
We often think of faith as being something to hold on to for protection. Faith doesn’t provide protection. Having faith means you know you’re fine without it.
We’ve lost what it means to truly have faith. Having faith doesn’t mean you can pray for something or wish for something and have it “work out” the way you want it to. Faith means you accept that you don’t even know what something “working out” even looks like. We have come to believe that if a set of circumstances in our lives leads us to “happiness” its because we prayed hard, followed the rules, and we were blessed because of it. That obviously means that if others do not find happiness, they must not have prayed hard enough or followed the rules correctly, so they missed out on their blessings. It takes an evolved state of awareness to understand that this is simply not the case.
Those who have developed genuine faith no longer look to external results of their actions to know if they are correct. Genuine faith means that you are guided by the inner peace that your choices bring and rest with confidence that all will be well — even if you don’t know how “well” may manifest itself. The word confidence literally means with faith…
When children ask for things and their parents tell them “no”, they often feel this is unfair and become angry. However, parents know more than children, and even if the child can’t understand that being denied something is in their best interest, it’s still the parents’ responsibility to stick to their guns.
We as adults have this same conversation with whatever higher power we choose to believe in. We want something, we get told “no”, we throw a tantrum. However, we as adults are tasked to stretch ourselves a bit further than children. Children can still maintain the belief that if they behave and follow the rules, they will be rewarded. But for adults to truly come into their own, they must allow that belief to die.
I have been in place in my life for some time where no one can really “reward” me. No one can bestow on me some gift for performing well or being a good person. I would accept such grace joyfully, but I would never internalize it as entering my life due to some action of mine. I know that I don’t really earn gifts just like I don’t really earn pain. Happiness, gifts, pain, and joy are simply part of life. I will never feel entitled to any gift or enjoyment no matter what I have done to “deserve” it. I could say that its because being a good person is its own reward, but that truth doesn’t resonate with me. The truth that resonates with me is simply this— I feel that being alive is my reward. Not just living, but being alive. I get to play this game of life, and have experiences, feelings, adventures, sensations, moments…it’s wonderful.
I’ve been through my fair share of drama in life. I am not immune to painful experiences, but I honor my pain with the same fervor for which I honor my bliss.
I am fascinated by the world and see it as this huge sandbox with lots of different people playing, building things, forming relationships—I often feel like this geeky kid that got into the cool party. The kids in the sandbox will fight, some will get hurt, some kids will be bullies and cause trouble, and this is unfortunate. But if it weren’t for some skinned knees, ruined sand castles, and tough feelings, there would be no adventure.
I’m just amazed I’ve been invited to play at all.