Sometimes, belief is hard. It is so much easier - sometimes - to know. There is precision in knowing, and absoluteness. It is clean and sharp, like a sword. Sometimes
Belief can be messy - all dotted lines and fill-in-the-blanks. It is mutable, changing and wind-swept. There are no handholds in it, nothing to hang the piton from, so that you can swing yourself up, or out, or down. And sometimes, what I want, all I want, is the easy certainty of knowing. Not that the knowings - the facts and figures and truths - are always easy. Thing is, once you know, you're done. There's nothing more to do with that item, other than store it in its proper basket in some empty corridor in your head, along with all the other knowings that wait to be dusted off or be shined under the light of a passing thought.
I wrestle with belief. I dance with God. It is the same thing, I think.
Here is an exchange that I had today, with a friend who helps me to see:
Me: You know that sound we've been talking about for the past few weeks? That cry - the one with no words, the one that starts in your soul, or someplace deep and secret and afraid? I just had my "Aha!" moment of the day. I think I've been making that sound my entire life, waiting for someone - anyone - to hear. Or maybe respond. But really, I think just notice.
Friend: Hence your search for God, no?
Me: Hence the search. Someone, something should hear, no? Why not God? Or do I make that sound because I fear there is no God?
Friend: Or, you need to have the faith that the sound is all you need.
Me: I may never have that kind of faith. I may never be that willing to be that silent or that alone.
Friend: But that's not being alone at all; in fact, I think it's quite the opposite.
Me: I wish I could believe that.
Friend: Hence, the search.
Me: So wait. What am I searching for? Or is it all God - the search, the faith, the silence, the solitude? Is that my struggle: that I think they're all separate?
The thing is, I couldn't have had this conversation a day ago, or a week ago, or a year or three ago. Or I could have (and probably did, or some iteration of it). That's the thing about belief: it changes. It isn't set. It grows and shrinks and doesn't give me handy, tidy answers.
I struggle with it, dance along its thin edge.
But I am caught, ever and always, and held, so that I can wrestle and rest and believe, even for an instant, sometimes for eternity, until I'm ready to start the dance again. And for today, in this moment of Elul, for just this instant, I am grateful that I can come out of the hard precision of knowing, into the silence and solitude of belief.
(c) Stacey Zisook Robinson