Monday, April 21, 2008

Credo 5: Trust, Faith, Simplicity, Somethin'

I had occasion to think about faith, rehashing the story of Passover this weekend. I'm generally faith-resistant, and wonder sometimes what it really means to "believe" anything. I'd have had a hard time with Moses, I think. After the long exchanges about faith and skepticism my sis and I had re the Rev. Wright dust-up, I decided to try on a little faith to see how it feels. Faith in what? I don't know. That all will be well, I guess. It feels preposterous, is how it feels. But if I hadn't been at least trying to fake it, I wonder if I'd have been as receptive to this poem by Thomas R. Smith. I'd never heard of him. But I can hear this:


It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can't read the address.

Up against that, of course, we have the mechanic who does a crap job on your car and inflates the bill, the disreputable-looking clerk who's earned every bit of that bad rep and will make it worse by the time he's done with you, the bank error and ensuing bounced check, the mail that gets lost, the theft that might not have happened but did, with an assault thrown in as a bonus, the wind that not only gets where it was going, but wreaks havoc on the coast, leaving many dead and dispossessed, and the river that no longer arrives because of the Three Gorges Dam, or because global warming has reduced it to a trickle, or because Las Vegas diverted all the water. And all the many ways your life can feel like a square package in a round P.O. box.

Maybe trust is just the small, tenuous act that suggests a larger, more abiding faith. I don't know what I trust either, except maybe the possibility of expressing something about these ideas that's more compelling than the ideas themselves.

That bit about the river being frozen and still arriving is a nod to one of my favorite poems of all time. I was saving it for last, but now I think it'll have to be next.


scotland said...

Preferenced trust, i.e. [maybe the fact that I wouldn't end this comment with two words,or indiscriminantly tack on my latest twitter] +God! Where is Nurse Ratchet when you really need her?where R the keystones?and the red #'s when needed?where is the digital impossibility?+
Faith in a sense of and desire to be surprised,regardless of the price. The never empty wallet of engaged awareness. Can I write you a check...I'll gladly pay you tuesday for,and I almost forgot...thankyouverymuch!

coloredsock said...

mmmm, the river being frozen and still arriving--that was my favorite part. i guess i have faith in that, although the icebergs and permafrost are melting, and i used to trust they couldn't or wouldn't. growing up catholic but not any more, my dad prays for my soul since i don't have 'his faith'. instead i go to a temple (an oh-so scarry word for a catholic dad) and sing before a monkey statue and a bald Indian dude wrapped up in a blanket. (did i tell you he prays for my soul?) and my dad never asks (since he'd rather not know) "WHAT" i believe, what my faith is, what i trust. i guess the thing i do trust in is karma and that although things may happen out of my control, i plant my own seeds, and every one will mature at some point, so i better try to plant good seeds, real good seeds...if that makes sense. can't wait for the next poem.

Sarah M. said...

Hey -- I'm catching up on my blog reading. Beautiful post. It reminded me of a link one of my friends sent me today. Quote from it: "Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life."

It's from Oswald Chambers' devotional book, which sometimes speaks to me deeply, like today's entry and sometimes makes no sense at all. For what it's worth: