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Faith, fact and why MC is singing

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, felt a knot in my stomach and recognized the worry: about family, deadlines, bills, clients who haven’t paid me for work I did last summer, and a retirement account that equals zilch.

It was pitch black; I couldn’t see a thing, but still I climbed out of bed and made my way down the hall to the fridge for some cold water. I took a long drink and leaned against the kitchen counter, looking out the window, wondering, “How did I get here? – to this point in my life where so many worries had piled up so high, and “How will I find my way out of this mess?”

I’m not alone. 2009 has been a year to rock the faith of even the most earnest believers. From nonstop revelations of infidelities among the Lettermans, Woods, and countless politicians, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the banks that continue to melt down, to the local losses of such community touchstones as Sarasota News & Books and the many restaurants and shops up and down Main Street and beyond that have closed up for lack of business, the disappointing (to say the least) scandal in our police department, the financial blows delivered by the Nadels, Morgans and Diamonds, the jobs that keep disappearing, the mortgages that keep defaulting – it’s all added up to a blistering year of heartache and worry for a heck of a lot of us.

A week ago, I wrote in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, about the need to remember what really matters – family and community and faith that we can all pull together and get through these tough times.

But in the week since that column ran, I’ve heard from many readers who are admitting to serious crises of faith in anything or anybody – even themselves. “I’ve been agonizing over the holidays,” one reader wrote, and many others expressed the same sentiment and worry about “dark times.”

I was thinking of those readers as I stood in my kitchen in the dark. I knew I had another column to write –one of those deadlines I was worried about – but what could I say to those readers when my own confidence had taken a midnight train to Shaky Town?

On my refrigerator, I used to have a magazine clipping of a quote by Rabindranath Tagore: “Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.” The clipping is long gone, but I remembered the words as I took a last swig of water. Only this time I couldn’t muster my usual enthusiasm for singing, and I returned to bed with a bit of a heavy heart.

I woke a few hours later, walked to the same fridge, this time for coffee, and stopped dead in my tracks with a thought that seemed to come from out of the blue: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Now, I’m not a church-going kind of gal, and I can’t quote scripture, but those words of Jesus Christ came into my mind just as clearly as if I’d been reading the Bible.

I recalled how I’d gotten out of bed last night and found my way through a dark house to reach the cool water I knew would be waiting for me. How I didn’t stub my toe on the dresser, trip over a sleeping cat, or bash my nose into a wall. I didn’t need my eyes to get me safely to the kitchen. I used my senses, my experience, and my trust that things would be in their proper places and I’d find my way to what I needed.

I’d asked myself last night, “How did I get here?” and though I’d been thinking of my troubles, the answer to the literal question told me everything I needed to know about the second question I’d asked, “How will I find my way out of this mess?”

I’ll find my way out of any mess, whether large or small, by having faith. Faith in the world I can see and feel and touch (like bureaus and walls) and faith in what I can’t see: my own ability, my determination, the unexpected kindness of others.

For some people faith means God and church; others only have faith in what can be backed up by scientific data or proof.

For still others, like me, I guess, faith is a mix of spirituality and science – faith mixed with fact, if you will — based in part on the empirical data that says the sun will rise every day, but also faith rooted in the spiritual certainty that if we choose to sing in the darkness of the night, instead of cry, the light that eventually comes will be that much brighter.

So, put on your earplugs, people. I’m singing. Loud and clear.

Posted on December 17th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
8 Responses to Faith, fact and why MC is singing
  1. Or as Tom Hank’s character says in the movie castaway “Keep breathing, you never know what the tide will bring in next.”

  2. Another Amen to Gary’s comment!

  3. How can you have any faith when even the “life is good” shop closes on main street Sarasota USA
    Jake and his big smile, just all a big facade.
    I hope next year things will be brighter!!!!
    Can’t wait to start the next decade
    this one needs to be flushed!!!
    Waiting for 2010 with bells on !!!!

  4. that was bad news yesterday — i didn’t know it closed until just recently. next year will be great. this year was tough — but i wouldn’t flush it completely!

  5. Try to name 5 heartwarming stories this year
    remembering that any story with Tiger in it does not count .
    After that just try for 3 stories
    when u can’t to that;
    hit the lever, and flush!

  6. How about having health does that count for anything?If you have some good friends and family even though times suck that should help get through every day.Yes these are bad times indeed but we are lucky too in many ways.Stop watching TV and reading the papers it is just filled with negativity and rarely anything positive.Faith can only get you so far but I say Carpe diem and take advantage of what we do have and have a good day and know things have to get better but it starts with you.One can’t blame anyone else if your glass is half empty…Make it happen or keep flushing.

  7. like your attitude, steve!


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