Faith: a Personal Definition

One aspect of faith is the belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.  It may be a naïve way of thinking, especially considering these troubled times.  It may be a bit misplaced in terms of focus considering the quantity of murders, robberies, beatings, and home invasions that take place every day.  However, if we cannot believe that the bulk of those traveling through life with us do so with goodness as a driving force, then we cannot live as faith-filled people. 

Back when I was still teaching something occurred at my high school that challenged my faith in humanity.  An article appeared in the school newspaper referring to a group of students as “Tard Kart.”  In itself, the label does not seem offensive.  However, the members of this group described themselves as crazy misfits who were not accepted by the school population at large.  Hence, to them, “Tard” was a derivative of the word retard.  Kart referred to the food carts which were staffed by Special Education students, the connection, to me, was quite obvious.

Believing that it was a simple mistake, I contacted the teacher who oversaw the Journalism students.  The teacher found nothing offensive about the inclusion of the name in the article.  When I asked her what she would do if a group called themselves “Spics” or “Wops.” Would she print that?  Of course not, she said, as those are ethnic slurs.

The teacher herself had been subjected to ethnic slurs over her entire teaching career.  She had been found crying, many times, over the cruelty of students who mimicked her accent and who left insults on the white board in her classroom.  One would think that if anyone would be sensitive to negative stereotypes, it would be she.

Earlier in the same week a student was attacked outside my classroom.  He was a relatively small freshman compared to others in his class. When I heard loud thumps outside my room, I went outside to see what was happening. My student was on the floor curled up in a fetal position, holding his groin area.  Large tears coursed down his cheeks.  He was unable to speak or move for more than thirty minutes. When I found out what has happened, I was horrified that two very large seniors had slammed the smaller boy against the wall and kicked him when he was down.

I believe that it was a prank that got out of control.  Yes, the students involved tended to be aggressive, defiant, and general malcontents.  Yes, they were not on track to graduate in June.  Even so, my faith tells me that this “beating” was not a planned act of violence, but rather an opportunistic reaction.

In my seventy-one years of life, I have not only witnessed, but also been a victim of comparable events.  As an abused child, I grew up in an environment that was not conducive to the development of faith.  It’s hard to believe in a God that allows physical beatings, verbal harassment, and emotional debasement.  I prayed, every day, for salvation.  My prayers went unanswered, or so I thought.

It was not until I went on a trip to the mountains of southern California with a Catholic youth group from my university that I understood faith.  Looking at the towering mountains and walking amid the amazingly tall trees, I realized that there is a God who loves the world so much that He gave us places of solitude and introspection. 

God does not always our wishes for He knows that we need to be forged by our experiences.  We may not want to walk our given path, but we have to believe that the journey somehow leads us to a clearer understanding of who we are meant to be.

When I stood in that forest I knew that I was not the horrible child that my parents saw.  Faith allowed me to witness the goodness inside myself, the goodness inside my parents, and the goodness in those sharing the moment with me.  It sounds like a cliché, but I truly felt a golden glow spreading through my body.  That glow was faith.

Since that day, my faith has been my rock.  It gives me the strength to transcend the travails of daily life.  It opens my eyes to the good intentions of others and allows me to feel generosity of spirit.  When disheartening or disturbing events rise forth, it is through faith that I am able to process what is happening.

I do believe that all humans are capable of living lives ruled by basic tenets of kindness and generosity of spirit.  Even when the news is filled with stories of turbulence, I do not let my belief waver.  That is my belief in the goodness of humanity. That is my faith.

Faith in Those Little Things

Whispers in the silent night

Tender touches by starlight

Words unsaid in angry voice

Actions fulfilled by free choice

Love’s strong arms held open wide

Know that God walks stride by stride

Watches like a parent proud

Mistakes expected: allowed

Understanding, patient, kind

Always there for us to find

Calls our names in winters wild

In spring, He gifts breezes mild

Summer’s heat sends us outside

God’s gifts in flowers abide

Rains remind of deep pain felt

Tragic death, deftly dealt

All these things, of faith speak

Comfort to all those who seek

God’s good grace, offered free

Sin’s release, for you and me

Faith defined in little things

Given by the King of kings

Saving Beat

Deep in my heart a drum strongly beats

An elixir for a troubled soul

Rhythmical thoughts, transported on cleats

Cutting, biting, pointing toward goal.

Rutted, strewn with boulders humongous

Life offers no simplistic, free ride

Discard now those thoughts superfluous

Escape into religion’s strong tide

Believe, believe the whispers demand

Strive toward the heavenly target

Faithfully follow the narrow strand

Requiring just one golden ticket

Open my eyes to glorious sights

Halos as light for the proper path

Discourse with me about faith’s delights

Immerse me in refreshing cool bath

With God as my Savior, blessings fall

Comet showers of hues glorious

Heeding Jesus’ soft spoken call

I harmonize with angels’ chorus

Radiant rays, my soul, surround

Arms extending to God’s holy feet

I beg to let ecstasy abound

As in my heart, continues the beat

Morning Prayer

Sunshine washes over my face

as I stand greeting morning’s rays

warming my mother, the earth

brightening skies and lifting hearts

soaring above the lofty clouds

with emblazoned lacy wings that

move with graceful exuberance,

carrying me closer and closer

to the blessed One who made it all.

 

Praise to the Lord, Halleluiah

for His gifts enrich all people

filling us with the everlasting

warmth of His dreams and hopes.

 

Sunshine washes over my face

giving me the supernatural strength

to follow the path chosen for me alone,

the golden steps of righteous living

that demand that I support my fellows

in their struggles and rejoice in triumphs

large and small, wallowing in the sunshine

of goodness streaking all over the earth.

 

Praise to the Lord, Halleluiah

For His kindness toward us all

Allowing us to err and arise from the ashes

As a phoenix soaring to the sun.

Holy Time

there is only here and now

and the once was and the soon to be

the should be, the could be, the might be

joined together, past, present, and future

blending into seamless time

beginning at the beginning

stretching off into the eternity

marching in a straight line

from time before all records were kept

pointing to time unknown

 

dropped in, snuggled in, squeezed in

human beings alter the universe

irrevocably

jumping barriers

leaping across boundaries

in pursuit of dreams

quests for an unholy grail

chasing illusive butterflies of chance

that change predetermined destinies

altering time forevermore

 

some keeping meticulous track

of minutes

days

months

years

 

while others intentionally forget the done

glossing over the finished

as if brushing off flies

for by shedding the past

the future lies

untarnished

unblemished

 

shining bright as the star that led

the Magi to Bethlehem

in search of

the One who would be

the only here and now