In my opinion, we, as finite beings, need faith. Faith is what allows us to stand in full-spread darkness and choose to step forward, not knowing what to expect or to hope for. Faith, in this infinite series of known and unknown unknowns called life and existence, is a necessity. Faith is both microcosmic (in the realm of mortal, human life) and macrocosmic (in the realm of universal existence) and as such each facet of faith requires unique treatment.
On the microcosmic level, faith is believing that one’s life can and will have meaning, depth, and character, no matter the ups and downs. Given the number of possibilities and ways that life can “go wrong”, it is very easy to feel discouraged by life’s difficulties and setbacks, to view them as hindrances to a life of meaning, depth, and/or character. Those who experience inordinate hardship are most hard-pressed to find faith at this level. And some might argue that it is faith at this level that matters most, because it is this level of faith that sees us through from day to day. Faith at this level grants hope. A sense of meaning, depth, and character are deeply personal. Each depends on a dynamic and complex sea of emotion, ideas, dreams, desires and other psychological states. For this reason, faith at the microcosmic level is ultimately faith in ourselves, the people we are, the people we are becoming, and the many roads, both good and bad, expected and unexpected, known and unknown, that lead us there.
We are also called to have faith in the world, in the universe; this is the macrocosmic level of faith. To keep believing that the sun and moon will rise and fall in the sky, that the oceans will maintain their sway, that the Earth will continue to rotate on her axis and revolve around the Sun, that trees and plants will continue to supply us with oxygen and food and medicine and shade and the gentle scents of spring. Each day that any living, breathing, thinking person persists on this planet requires continuous acts of faith! Every day that we breathe easy is a day that we have found faith in the world around us and faith in our own ability to be in the world around us, come what may.
People often talk of faith in the limited sense of “faith in God” or another “Higher Power”. I believe that faith is bigger than that. Faith in one, easily conceptualized Being is…easy, at least when compared to the level of faith that is required of a person who recognizes the vast series of forces and possibilities that exist within any given moment, set in motion by a symphony of divine energies that we can only imagine to imagine. If one recognizes and honors the depth and scope of what divinity has sparked into being and becoming, then faith opens up. Faith at the macrocosmic level is then less and less about what actually happens or manifests in our small corner of the world (though that does matter) and more about respecting the machinery of the universe, devised by divinity long ago when the universe was brand new. Faith then is seeing and respecting the dance, though the specific moves may be unclear and we are unsure of where the lead is taking us. Given its pervasiveness, faith is the most common thing in the world, and the most missed once lost.
May faith always guide our steps, especially when the road is unclear.