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Friday, April 22, 2016

Trusting the River

Recognizing Faith

Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”
Richard Rohr

The young people in our Spirituality Group have been brought up in religious communities which taught them that faith means adhering to a certain set of canonized beliefs. Every religion has them. In order to call themselves authentic Christians, for instance, they were expected to “believe” that Jesus was the only son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that he died as payment for the sins of humanity, that he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and that the only way to join him in heaven is to hold these beliefs, and never question them. They were taught that if you couldn't check these boxes, you could not call yourself a Christian. They stayed away from the church for years because they could not, in good conscience, check the boxes, especially since they watched their Churches reject and condemn gay and lesbian people, many of whom are their friends and/or family members. Worse, however, was the guilt they felt over not being able to check those boxes. Did it make them terrible people? Did it consign them to eternity in hell? Did it mean they were not people of faith?

Faith, I think, is not in the business of commanding adherence to a dogmatic set of beliefs. Faith is in the business of instilling trust. It is a river flowing deep within that will carry you through life if you can tap into it. Trust that you will know what comes next, that you will be shown the way, that you are among friends, both seen and unseen, who will guide you if you let them. 

One young woman in the Spirituality Group told about a series of seemingly coincidental events that resulted in her coming to the group after having declared herself an atheist for many years. She was part of the architectural team building our new garden, and was standing in the parking lot supervising a work crew. A member of the group came out of the church, having left an unrelated meeting, and said hello to her. She asked, “What kind of church is this, anyway?” They stood in the parking lot for half an hour, with her asking questions and him answering them. As he spoke, she simply knew that she needed to give this a try. That sense of knowing, that courage to ask hard questions, that following the gut instinct—that is not doubt. That is faith. And, you can trust it.

                                                      In the Spirit,

                                                           Jane

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