Archive for January, 2013

Faith and the new moon

January 11, 2013

Yesterday I saw the slimmest crescent moon, waning to new, the moment it crested the horizon. It wasn’t more than 2% illuminated, a sight I’ve been privileged to before. But because of that optimal illusion where objects at the horizon are magnified, a sight that should have been familiar was unrecognizable. What was that thin pinkish curved light, I asked myself, discerning it through the scatter of streetlamps and taillights in the east. Within a few minutes it had climbed higher, taken on more recognizable proportions, and was joined by Venus just to its lower right. I had just a few more minutes to appreciate the show before moon and planet disappeared into a bank of low lying clouds. As the sunrise progressed, these would steadfastly refuse to reveal their treasures, but provided instead their own magnificent display, replete with a flaming flamingo-pink climax.

The night before, I’d realized I had lost faith in life’s ability to compensate for the trials and tribulations of being human.  It was a sort of “Is that all there is?” moment, devoid of even the ironic consolation Peggy Lee’s song offers. I suppose this has happened before, but usually, my faith has outstripped every resource I’ve possessed. “Something good is bound to happen,” I’d insist even when I could see the staunchist of my advocates trying to hide the doubt in his or her eyes.

No longer did I feel supple with the confidence that my sufferings would somehow, miraculously, be rewarded.  And without this belief that an inconceivably wonderful experience lay just outside of my ken, I knew the odds were low that I would be doing much to change any parts of my life that weren’t pleasing me.   Not much else has ever inspired me to put my back into it.  The lure of money, for instance, has never been enough to prod me into action.  And I’m old enough now to note the empty promises that echo in the siren’s song of ego.  Without the lure of money or fame, how, I asked myself, would I finish those creative projects that have been lingering in the dark for too long?

So what to do without faith?  Would the days and nights pass with the same dull tone, the unappetizing texture of minor challenges and insignificant victories?  “At the very least,” I finally told myself, “I have to do something if only to keep from being utterly bored.”  With that thin promise, I went to sleep.

When I saw the sunrise the next morning, I told myself this was the sort of reward I should be expecting.  And I do my best to celebrate the small miracles the pop up every day, whether in the natural world or in social interactions.  I suppose this is why money has never mattered much to me, because I am satisfied by a sunrise or sunset, the sight of a hawk, the smell of damp earth, the sound of water tripping over stones.

It’s more than likely true that all the lovely sunrises in the world wouldn’t pay my rent, let alone ensure that there’s something set aside for when I get too old to work.  I’ll do my best to believe that some effort on the more practical side of life’s equation may pay off.  But while I fret over how the bills will get paid, how the assortment of problems big and small will get resolved, there are still rewards along the way:  serendipities that lull me into thinking that I’m headed along the right path (or, at least, a path).  And just maybe, that’s all the faith one needs.  Maybe there is a place in the world for all of us with our beautifully strange ideas and silly coping mechanisms, and when the time comes for a little assist from the universe, it will appear as naturally as the sunrise each morning.