The sacred act of leaping
I have this picture in my head of what it looks like to have faith. It is me, standing on the edge, right at the top of some impossibly high mountain, the sky a deep cerulean blue, luminous and rich, the air crisp. I stand, poised, ready to leap, to soar and fly and float and land, without doubt, in absolute certainty, to rest gently in the palm of God’s hand.
I do a lot of standing.
Faith is tough for me.
I want to leap. I want to have that certainty. I want to rest with God, be carried through. I want it desperately. Sometimes, I feel it, a tiny trill of anticipation tweaked with fear and nerves and excitement, radiating out weakly from my center. Fingers and knees tingle, and for a moment, just a moment, the barest whisper of a moment, I gather myself and breathe and –
Stay. Stuck. Wistful and regretful. And safe.
Like I said, I want to leap. Sometimes that level of faith is beyond me.
And yet, every once in a while, I soar.
And I find God’s hand, outstretched, waiting for me. Every time. Without exception. Every time I leap, there is God, waiting for me.
I wish I could remember that, that God waits. Just for me. Always. Patient, comforting, with a hint of the eternal. I don’t though. I stay, wrapped in my doubt like a blanket, sure (sure-ish) that fear and doubt are safer than that split second of free fall until I find God’s warmth. I hear the echo, ever and always and first, of the only prayer I had for a couple of decades: “Fuck you, God.” I wrote that prayer at a young age, sure that God had abandoned me, left me to struggle in pain, to drown in my loneliness. I declared my apostasy loudly – “There is no God!”
Of course, the louder I shouted, the more I could drown out the whisper that slipped so softly in my head, not so much that I didn’t believe in God, but that God didn’t believe in me. It was that certainty that kept me rooted, poised and still. I cannot leap, because I am afraid that God still has His (Her?) (“It” just doesn’t seem right) (some genderless pronoun to encompass God) – I cannot leap because I am still afraid that God has His back turned away from me.
No redemption for you! Ha!
And yet, I have leaped and soared and slipped gently into the ever-present outstretched hand of God. My struggle, my disbelief, my lack of faith is just that: mine. My holy and sacred quest is a shadow dance. God is enthusiastic spectator in my solo performance. God watches, applauding my every effort, laughing in all the right places, waiting for me to lose myself in the moment.
It is not what I pray – it’s that I pray. That’s what matters. That’s what makes God dance.
Do. Act. Pray. Sing. Serve. The grace (and gracefulness) will follow. God will catch me, soaring or stumbling in the dark., God waits to catch me And, after I have rested a bit, caught my breath a bit, then God and I, we’ll dance.