Faith is an interesting concept. I lived without any faith for much of my adult life. The search for meaning in life, the search for the sacred, my reaching for relationship with divinity, didn’t provide any sense of “faith in a higher purpose”, and guidance from a caring God outside of the tangible forces of Nature, which are my gods. I had no faith.
A year ago I attended a gathering in New Mexico. The night sky in the West shows clearly the sheer vastness of the universe; our own Milky Way one of billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, with trillions of planets, the night sky, huge beyond my human capacity to take in.
As part of the work we did at the men’s conclave at the Cuyamungue Institute, we visited a secreted archaeological site of the Pueblo people. Everywhere I looked there were shards of pottery on the ground, thousands of remnants of simple practical containers for carrying food and water. These things of simple human life showed me a continuity, a sense of humanity living and dying – first living though, passing life onto the next generation. It is a beautiful poignant site, a very sacred place and I feel so honored to have walked on that ground, seeing the remains of a culture that dwelled there for generations, living simple lives off the land as all our ancestors did.
And here we are today, all seven plus billion of us, none of us all that unique, special, or significant. And behind us? Endless trillions of ancestors, reaching back to the very beginning of life on Earth, passing genetic code and the gift of life to the next generation, evolving from single cell beings, to multi-cell, to plant, to animal, to human, and all the other endless species of life on Earth today, all of us relatives descended from that initiation. Each one of us but a speck of space dust in the flow of the universe, living lives immeasurably short, but life we are.
Working with the ancestors reveals our own utter insignificance. That is very freeing. We are just one of endless trillions, all going about a similar life process. All of us moving through time, through life and consciousness, back into the void, and then back into new forms. None of us is truly important to the scheme of things.
The work we did at the conclave helped me feel the “spirit world” moving right in tandem with our physical reality. And I felt my dance within that dynamic, saw how I touched other souls, how I had influence, and how I was touched and influenced in return. And this good work gave me a sense of faith. We are completely significant to ourselves and those in our community. The saying “As above, so below” does not really ring true to me. Inward and local, we are vital. From the bigger picture? Utterly meaningless. Faith is found in the interplay between these perspectives.
That is an intriguing dichotomy, the dance between insignificance and complete significance. Letting go of our own self-importance in the larger scheme of life is vital to our well-being and in gaining a sense of peace. We are here today. Some of us will be gone tomorrow. All of us inevitably going back to source. To quote a favorite singer/songwriter, “We all get a chance to be nothing.” ~ Bruce Cockburn. Holding onto to moments, images, thoughts, emotions, ideas, is an act in futility. Yet we are hard-coded to do just that. Freedom comes not in dispelling and dismissing these impulses, but rather in letting them move through us, changing us, not resisting their movement, watching, observing, and engaging. This is what we druids mean when we talk about flowing with the currents of Nature. Hold onto a moment and we miss others as they move by, our sense of the breadth of life then diminished. These moments are precious to us though. We do our best and that is enough. Remembrance is part of Nature as well.
So where does faith come in? Faith for me lies in knowing there is so much more going on than I can perceive, the dance of life more complex and beautiful than the tiny spectrum I see, hear, taste, touch and smell. The universe, a.k.a. Nature has created us and we can observe change. There is a reason for this, even if it isn’t apparent. That is faith for me. And I know Nature is minded and eternal. There is much to discover about the nature of Nature. Knowing we are built to observe and engage gives me a sense of faith. Choosing to observe and discover is to choose a rich spiritual life.
From what I can glimmer, all of Nature is looking at itself, dancing with itself, from the rain falling on the fields, to the waves crashing on the beach, to the owl hunting the mouse, to the sun bathing the Earth in light, to the Milky Way dancing with other galaxies in the endless darkness of the Universe. We all look and perceive. There is a reason for this. I couldn’t possibly say what it is, but I have faith that such a beautiful and stunning dance has purpose.