Thursday, April 2, 2020

WORD PAINTINGS #86 - RADICAL FAITH

Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 2 April 2020 

Sometimes a ray of hope is a simple shadow made by a ventilation pipe and a canale on a certain day every year - and that is the day you just happen to plan a field trip shortly after the loss of a child. And there it is - an omen, a sign on the ancient adobe wall of a mission church.  Childhood faith kicks in while staring at the shadow....a small spark of life returns.  Yes, I have absolute faith that if the sun shines on that old adobe wall each year around the 26th of October, that cross will be there for all to see.  How simple is that?

Radical faith is far more complicated - impossible to grasp - small quick-silver glimpses of what we once knew as "normal".  Nothing we can hold in our minds for long in these unsettling days and months to come.  No picture of what the future will hold - everyday life as we knew it is forever changed.  How is it possible to comprehend such uncertainty?   Is it possible to navigate the vast Unknown - this new Game of Life without the instructions?

"We may be living through times of unprecedented change, but in uncertainty lies the power to influence the future. Now is not the time to despair, but to act.

It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction. The hope I am interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety,” the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked.

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterwards either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.

Together we are very powerful, and we have a seldom-told, seldom-remembered history of victories and transformations that can give us confidence that, yes, we can change the world because we have many times before. You row forward looking back, and telling this history is part of helping people navigate toward the future. We need a litany, a rosary, a sutra, a mantra, a war chant of our victories. The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future."  Rebecca Solnit - The Guardian

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