Monday, September 21, 2009

The Little Leaps

I stumbled upon a magazine feature in which celebrities responded to questions about faith. They each offered sound bites about a spiritual experience, or moment when faith came alive for them. I was intrigued by this conversation, as it’s something that’s often on my mind. I hear many practitioners of religion say that faith is about trusting in something that cannot be seen or proven. Yet, somehow that unproveable, intangible thing must be felt, right? Otherwise, how do we, as people, keep throwing ourselves toward beliefs that can’t be proven, and what is it that makes us feel that we’re believing in the right direction?

This quote from Faith Adiele, author of Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun, struck a chord with me. “Every time I act without knowing the outcome, with the risk of failure looming before me, I try to see that as a spiritual moment. Every time I transcend my limitations or touch something larger than myself: one step closer.”

I never articulated it this way, but lately I’m making such acts all the time. Leaving a steady job to pursue writing, sticking with it despite the bleak economy, writing what I care about over what will earn the most. I recently commented to a friend that I feel validated in this pursuit when the world answers me in small ways, whether it be a good review, or a letter from a reader, or an invitation to speak. Sometimes I need those small tokens of approval to know I’m on the right track. But my friend seemed distressed by this, saying that I shouldn’t need to be validated by the outside world, as long as I know in my heart that I’m doing what I love. Conceptually, that sounded right to me, and I worried about it. Do I not have enough faith in myself?

In reality, though, every time I take one of these little leaps I am putting faith in myself, but also in God or the universe or the world around me, to catch me before I fall.

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