Everyday Resilience: Faith
COVID is a thief, robbing us of precious things.
What have you been robbed of? Last week, we were robbed of celebrating my mother-in-law's 90th birthday the way we had planned. And my church family is being robbed of the opportunity to celebrate our pastor's retirement after 18 years of loving service to our congregation - the party was to have been today. My church family and I are grieving the loss of that.
Even as my husband and I have developed a rhythm for working from home - and have appreciated some of the benefits of this (those silver linings) - I continue to struggle with the devastation this virus is wreaking, especially on those who are less privileged. Science is showing this virus to be complicated, unpredictable; I just read that the virus acts like no microbe humanity has ever seen. Honestly, between the virus and the way this pandemic has been politicized by U.S. leadership, it can feel pretty hopeless. Are you feeling hopeless some days? What have you been robbed of? What's getting you through?
More than anything, what's getting me through is my faith - my Christian faith. And I've had writer's block for three weeks trying to figure out how to write about it. My faith has taught me that love is stronger than death and calls me to be a person of hope in this world. Faith has taught me that everything is sacred, that we are all connected and that therefore we all benefit when 'the least of us" is fed, is clothed, and is given access to healthcare!
The bible offers four types of faith; a subtlety that gets lost (literally) in translation. Assensus is faith as belief - it is the most common understanding, this idea that you choose to believe something. But you can believe all the right things and still be in trouble! Assensus holds little transformative power. Fidelitas is faith as loyalty, allegiance, a commitment of the heart. Visio is faith as a way of seeing - of seeing the whole, and is informed by your worldview - the world as threatening, indifferent, or gracious and life-giving. The fourth type of faith is the one that resonates the most with me: fiducia. Fiducia is a radical trust in God, like floating in deep water. Struggle, and you might drown. Relax, and you are buoyant. Faith, for me, is a letting go - a deep knowing that is experiential, something I feel in my bones, and allows for mystery. I've found that it helps to have an open heart, ready to receive. Right now it's calling me to let go of worry and to be present to what's happening, trusting new life will come.
Humans seek meaning - it is our nature, and has been called the sixth stage of grief. Faith teaches us, through imagery and metaphoric language, to trust our own deep experience. It doesn't matter which faith practice works for you - they all have the same basic messages, whether it's Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, or other. Christianity works for me, speaks most deeply to me, because of its core message that suffering is a part of life - in the life and death of Jesus, suffering is faced head-on. I have been a privileged witness to suffering since I was a young nurse, some 35 years ago. And because of my faith, I have been able to see how - every single time - God prepares me for suffering, is present deep within me through suffering, provides me with what I need to get me to the other side, and sure enough, resurrects something new - often surprising me with the wisdom and the insight I gain through the process. I experienced this through the death of my grandfather, through my sister's cancer, through creating the UrbanPromise Wellness Center...and I trust it will get me through this time of COVID.
Richard Rohr writes that "all great spirituality is about what we do with our pain." If I've stirred even a brief moment of curiosity in you, I invite you to give it a try. You don't need to say you believe in anything - I simply invite you to open your heart and lift up a prayer, a deep desire - to God, to the universe, whatever feels okay to do. My faith is the root of my resilience, a deeply experiential part of my life that I am no longer going to hide behind a rock. In this unpredictable, frightening, perhaps kairos global moment, maybe it could be a path of resilience for you as well.