“But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; & the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Part of the the Heart & the Law collection
“In the center of an ancient grove lies a spring lined with smooth pebbles and stones & from the center of this spring rises a spire of rock. From the peak of the rock a fountain pours forth, a sparkling dome of water through which flickering golden sunlight colours the natural cathedral underneath.”
And so I wrote to a friend — nearly 18 years ago — describing with image and metaphor the core of my personal beliefs. This fountain, the source of all life and joy and wonder – eternally showered its visitors with all the challenges, treasures and experiences of existence; those whose hearts had not closed to its divine beauty welcomed the adventures in their lives…
Those who could no longer see the truth of this fountain, who resisted their lives, resisted the rush of existence washing over them, struggled with life, themselves, each other.
This was the metaphor I used to speak of the Faith … to introduce a belief so unladen by dogma and mythology that I needed to create my own mythology to share it.
“You see,” I wrote, “what we believe is not important; we’ll never completely agree on the finest details of the Divine. What matters most is that we believe, that we have faith; that our minds, our spirits, our souls, our cells… share the sustenance of hope & faith in something more momentous than our selves.”
All of human understanding depends on faith; even our most hard-won knowledge, our most rational science, relies on our belief that what we know now will continue to have meaning in the future; that effects have repeatable causes; that the sun has risen in the east for millennia and will continue to rise in the east long after we have gone.
The teachings of deeply spiritual men and women have always differed in manner and message, but not in meaning… love, compassion, and the wisdom of surrender — beings of great faith universally live and share these gifts.
At twelve, having rebelled against my old God for all the difficult and transformative times of youth, having tossed my faith out in bitter, venomous curses, I turned away from my faith. My world felt darker, dimmer, less bright; alone in my weary loneliness I turned my anger and sadness inward. But faith had not turned away from me.
When we finally emerge from our most difficult challenges, having struggled with our ghosts, our limits or our fears, a curious serenity often fills us … we’ve engaged the universe, dallied with destructive forces – physical, emotional, egoic – and found ourselves still whole on the other side, despite all our horrible predictions.
We may even come to appreciate the trials we’ve faced, because they mould us into our current form.
So in the following two years I faced a number of challenges that seemed so momentous to my adolescent thoughts, and in my journals I see the pattern that emerged. Worry. Struggle. Resist… and then, I didn’t give up, I didn’t stop caring, at some point the worrying and struggling and resisting lost their urgency — I turned toward being with my challenges.
Each time I reached the point of accepting that I could not change the things I’d already faced, that I’d already done, soon after I emerged from my dark nights of the soul, perhaps a bit wiser and more mature.
Faith is the holy water of life. The Bible speaks of faith, hope and love as separate qualities, but they form a Trinity just as singular as Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Faith – belief in something more – gives us our strength to hope that with our lives we will honor our purpose, and love arouses our energies and passions to share ourselves deeply with each other and everything in and around us.
Hope, emboldened by the presence of faith – so absolutely necessary to being alive, walks with us and grants us the clarity to see our path ahead and freedom from the shackles of fear. As long as faith and hope are present, so too is love.
Love – faith in pure, instantaneous form – expresses now – at this moment – a spontaneous outpouring of grace. Trusting in the wisdom of love reaffirms our hope when it has been battered by storms… and in building bonds with one another we, ourselves, together, are Creators of a sort of Heaven, creators of something divine, creators of something more. We take part in creating the design of our faith.
I explained: “life without faith is unlived. Those who have turned away from the simplicity of faith, whether they are Christian, atheist, agnostic… the light of joy no longer dances in their eyes. And though they seem resigned to their lot, inside they rot and decay with constant struggle. To believe in nothing more than this? It robs all meaning from the spirit, all reason for life itself.”
So I created this image of the fountain of Faith, extracted it from religious context into a purely natural setting. Water cascading from the earth, lit brilliantly by the sun, splashing over our skin, asks us to take nothing more for granted than that it is there.
So it is with faith – we don’t need to accept one mythology over another, choose one final dogma to overcome the rest – because the heart of all spiritual wisdom lies in faith and in love.
Surely then enlightenment lies somewhere under that fountain, and surely any gods whose teachings extol these virtues bask themselves in the spring of Faith – and thus welcome with open arms any who recognize, accept and practice simply believing, regardless of specifics.
And surely when we reflect on the necessity of faith in understanding, much less sharing or communicating our experience, we realize how much believing is the foundation of being and of living.
“I stand with my ankles spread shoulder-width in the shallow pool, my arms angled, outstretched, into the shimmering sheets of water, lean my head back and raise my eyes to the sun, enveloped in, purified by, renewed by the force washing over me. Everything is new and reborn, I see with the wonder of discovery, an endless universe unfolded, and I have a chance to explore my place within it,” I wrote in my final paragraph to her… “I believe, as simply as that. I believe, & because I believe, I love — I am alive.”