The point is that in almost every instance of our lives we are, if we pay attention, in the midst of an almost constant, if subtle, caretaking. Holding open doors. Offering elbows at crosswalks. Letting someone else go first. Helping with the heavy bags… Pulling someone back to their feet. Stopping at the car wreck, at the struck dog… This caretaking is our default mode and it’s always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise. Always.
To hold open a door, offer an elbow at a crosswalk or help an injured animal is to keep faith with one another. It is to keep faith with life. Our careful, constant caretaking, our belief in ourselves and other trust in each other are all part of our human nature. As poet Ross Gay writes, “it’s always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise.”
So how do we embrace and hold to faith in the midst of the messages that urge us to act otherwise? Or to put it another way, how do we continue to affirm and promote our UU principles of inherent worth and dignity, interconnection and beloved community when the world feels hostile or uncaring?
We do so by keeping faith with one another. We do so by honoring the importance of renewing trust and keeping promises. We do so by continuing to kindle the light of hope, joy and connection. As James Baldwin writes, “The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”
This month we’ll be exploring how to keep that light on by renewing faith in ourselves and each other.
Yours in faith,
Practice, An Act Renewing Faith
When the word ‘faith’ came into the English language, it traveled from the Old French ‘feid’ by way of the Latin ‘semper fidelis’ (always loyal). It’s meaning had nothing to do with belief in the absence of proof but instead with keeping promises. ‘Faith’ was not a statement about belief, but about behavior. Source
I know many people who are always loyal to their practice, their behavior, setting aside regular time to hone their craft. They set aside time to play their scales, feel how the melody can move, changing between passages at first clumsily and then with more and more ease.
I have not been one of those people. If there’s an immediate goal in front of me, sure. That concert is coming up mighty soon, or I better learn the piece I need to teach tonight. But I’m reminded of first learning to play the recorder. Think of the first instrument you were ever taught in school. Was it the recorder for you as well? Or maybe it was the ukulele. Remember how slow it was to change between one note or chord to the next. Remember how awkward you first felt to do something new? But you kept at it until the school concert or through each year of school, or till you felt ready to play or sing something for friends.
It won’t be today, it might not be tomorrow, but someday, sometime you will play or sing better than you dreamed possible. This month, I’m going to strive to renew my relationship with regular practicing. I will go slower, I will set shorter goals each week, I will learn something new, I will share what I’ve learned with family and friends.
This will be done not as an act of something I should do but as what Soulful Home curator, Theresa Honey-Youngblood suggests as “a kind of learning-prayer, sending faith for a better future out into the world.” (see ‘The Extra Mile’ of soulful home packet for March)
by nadine j. smet-weiss
when I look
at the world
the reflection i see
appears to be
a mangled mess
raw material for
may love guide
my daily contribution