When you have come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly. ~ Patrick Overter
As I read these words today, I realized that this has become the most powerful teaching of the last few months of my life. Powerful change swept through my life like a tornado, and left a wide path of rubble where my old life once stood. As I found myself having to face what the next steps would be, I kept trying to dig deep into my own resources, find a way through, and be strong. Then I fell and broke my leg. When all was feeling lost already, my own body had decided to take a retreat from action. What a powerful and challenging position to be in!
In these weeks following the fall that broke my leg, I have found myself face to face with the independent, fierce part of myself that wants to push onward and make things okay. This voice has told me that it is trying to protect me, to keep many options in front of me, and to help me to survive what feels crushing in life. But the more this voice tried to envelop me in its protective armoring, the more I wanted to collapse. I felt that I was truly not strong enough, that my resources were spent, and that my answers had run out. Washed up on the shore of tremendous change, I was left with noplace to go, nothing to do, and the powerful question: what does it mean to have faith in difficult times?
The word faith, I soon discovered, brought up some unconscious cringe factor in me. Did I really want to engage in dancing with a concept that brought to mind the leagues of people in middle America that didn’t believe in climate change and green energy, that would prefer to just pray that Jesus would come and make it all better? Or did I want to defer to the more New-Age version of the same thing, claiming that the ETs would soon appear and give us all the technologies we need to make things right? That faith, based in ungrounded fantasy and absolute unwillingness to wake up to any personal responsibility, made my skin crawl. But I began to see that I had thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Faith didn’t have to mean believing in some fairy tale where a magic wand makes everything okay.
And so, I am learning to allow myself to fall into the abyss, to step off the cliff with full trust and willingness. To surrender my anxiety’s desire to find all the answers to every potential problem that could ever occur. To remember that the next step will reveal itself in perfect timing. To trust that life will bring to me everything that I need and want if my heart is pure. To accept responsibility for clearing my mind so that I can listen deeply for the guidance to take that next step. To breathe into whatever bodily or emotional discomfort arises without having to do anything about it. To surrender my attachment to any particular outcome, and to find a way to move into acceptance of whatever arises. And I am learning that *this* is the essence of faith.
Sometimes the miracle of flight comes. More often, the solid ground is right there beneath us already. Are we awake enough to notice? That is the essence of the path, to wake up in small ways, to pry open the doorway in our consciousness that leads us beyond the mind and its layers upon layers of conditioning, and to see freely what is already there. To feel the ground, and to notice the miracles of flight when they appear.