Bird Droppings May 8, 2011
Pondering on mothers day about faith
For so many a Sunday morning brings dressing up and heading to a place of worship. Worship for most is a community event a gathering of like believers who sit and go through ritualistic undertakings in a prescribed manner and at the prescribed time head home or to a restaurant for lunch and then right back to their lives. My question is always does this entail faith or simply tradition and ritual. A routine followed from childhood and continued into adulthood and passed on to offspring similar to tool making and other basic functions. Perhaps this is where I draw a differentiation between faith and religion. For me religion is the traditions and rituals and then faith is something else.
“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas
“In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind’s concern is charity.” Alexander the Great
Within man there is a driving force, a desire to understand, a need to know and perhaps be known. Often we hope, we believe, so that we can share. Early writers chose a word to define this idea of sharing. In Greek several words were used to define what mankind considered love, Eros, Philos and Agape. Eros is that sexual passionate love, Philos that love that can be deemed brotherly love, and Agape. Agape in 1613 was defined as the word charity by translators for King James. As I was researching earlier I found Alexander the Great used charity, perhaps in a similar fashion.
“Faith is a continuation of reason.” William Adams
“Faith is a higher faculty than reason.” Henry Christopher Bailey
“I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.” St. Bernard
I have introduce the word love into my discussion of faith as well as so often it intertwines between the operations and delineations of what is defined by many as faith. A simple word faith, much of the world’s history has evolved around our understanding of this word and our acceptance or rejection of various aspects of that word.
“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.” Pearl S. Buck
“To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.” Thomas Carlyle
Several years ago I researched the word faith in an education class, and found that Dr. James Fowler of Emory University wrote a book on the development of faith. In his book he was comparing faith in stages much as Erickson and Piaget looked at children’s development.
“Do you know how to digest your food? Do you know how to fill your lungs with air? Do you know how to establish, regulate and direct the metabolism of your body — the assimilation of foodstuff so that it builds muscles, bones and flesh? No, you don’t know how consciously, but there is a wisdom within you that does know.” Donald Curtis
“To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty… this knowledge; this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” Albert Einstein
As I researched the word and its applications to people and especially to children I found an interesting correlation and parallel. The word trust and faith are synonymous.
“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A faith to live by, a self to live with, and a purpose to live for.” Bob Harrington
“All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine.” James Joyce
Could it be that faith is an evolutionary thing, it grows, alters, changes and develops much as visual acuity changes and mental cognitive aspects of our nature change. As I looked deeper and saw correlations to the word trust, I could see trust in children evolve and grow and simultaneously faith.
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.” Soren Kierkegaard
“That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary” Major Kira Nerys
There is a dark side as I watch children who have little trust in their lives for what ever reason. It is here we see that vacuum, a hollow void a space where faith is vacant. If faith and trust is void then as so many great thinkers have said hope is lost and charity is non existent. I watch students who have little trust in anything and for them only self matters. Over the years I have seen philosophy and theology often interconnect at times one trying to explain the other.
“Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.” Reinhold Niebuhr
“There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.” John Wooden
Two great men in their respective fields Niebuhr a theologian and Wooden one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time with a similar idea. Going at life and in my own case in teaching it is finding a way to build trust in children who have none. Many times more often than not when trust can be developed then so can faith. Hope soon follows, and charity sort of finds it way along. Many years ago I watched a film one of my favorites, Billy Jack. In one scene a young Native American offers a slip of paper to a young lady in the film containing a passage he attributes to St. Francis of Assisi.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
Niebuhr used this statement in a much longer prayer often referred to as the serenity prayer during a sermon in the late 1950’s. As I worked through literature and my own thoughts piecing together bits and shards, I found there was a need within people for faith, and for trust. In reality it is not much different than so many other areas of human development. The capacity and direction of that faith and trust may vary greatly in traditions and in perceptions but it is there. Walking out into the mornings often reminds me, as I look upon a clear sky a moon tilted slightly smiling, stars and a few clouds creating an image of calm. We each piece together our own life’s puzzle one piece at a time often never seeing the completed version only having faith that it is there, somewhere. Please as the week draws to an end, keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and a most happiest of mothers days.