July 12, 2006

Faith

The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.
Henry David Thoreau
7/12/1817


Do you believe this? I do. But I have to make myself remember it every day, perhaps every moment. I think when I've experienced dependence on my very small seed of faith, I have learned to go deeper than happiness into something called peace. Peace of spirit. Peace in my soul. Having faith truly is like falling backwards into the unknown and knowing that there is a soft landing because you believe there is.

I suppose I could write a whole paragraph on my hopes and dreams for happiness. I'm pretty sure these things would make me happy: a summer in Italy, a house in the mountains, success for my children, being 138 lbs, eating perfectly, seeing my creative ideas come to fruition, disciplined days of homeschooling perfectly, a new kitchen, bathroom, deck, french doors in the dining room - finishing our house to our ideal, did I mention a summer in Italy? Spain would do. But I have no idea whether these things would make me happy or not, actually. They're just some fanciful idea to chase and wonder about, diversions. I've been 138 lbs before and I don't remember the fanfare.

Those things might bring a surge of happy, a bouyant bouncing joy, a big ole smile. Something to scrapbook about. If I scrapbooked. But peace is something else. And I do think that peace comes from faith. When we're experiencing the rockiest, worst times...do we take off to Italy? Do we remodel a house or strive for an awesome body? Maybe so. Maybe we do try to bounce to the other side, inject a big rush of HAPPY into ourselves to balance out the grief. To make us forget. To conquer that bad demon that's found its way in. To run.

But what if we stood firm and faced the worst and had faith? I think that's when I realize that peace is there for the taking. It's right there lying in wait underneath the hysteria. I can go there when I choose. It is a knowing that truly nothing can destroy us - not disappointment, not betrayal, not pain, not ridicule, not unfairness, not lonliness, not even our own attempts at destruction. We're still there and we can choose faith and peace or striving and groping for thrill. Having faith leaves room for happiness, but it seems to me that insisting upon happiness leaves room for little else, certainly not faith.

The times I've chosen faith and that peace, I've walked forward with more assurance and less fear. The times I've chosen to strive for happiness and then found it waning, I am lost and wandering and find it a bit more difficult to resume living out the real. So, I'm with Thoreau. I think he's onto something. I think something better than "happiness" lies waiting inside of faith as small as a mustard seed.

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