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Excerpted from A Woman's Journey to God by Joan Borysenko. Copyright 1999 by Joan Borysenko. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Emily Dickinson wrote about faith as a fragile thing, a winged thing."

Joan BorysenkoA Woman's Journey to God, Part 2

"There's more room for mystery in my life since Jennifer passed over. I have faith that some greater Mystery exists. I have faith that, as St. Paul wrote, now we see but through a glass darkly. Someday we'll see face-to-face. I believe that someday I'll see Jennifer face-to-face again. Hold her and hug her and hear all about her life in the Spirit World. I have faith that then I'll understand why she died. Now I don't understand. Maybe my anger at God is not just about taking my beautiful child but also about being so mute and opaque. I want to know things that we mortals cannot know. And I have to renew my faith and go on with my life in spite of the not knowing. Perhaps that is the only true definition of faith. The belief in a fair and loving Universe despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

Emily Dickinson wrote about faith as a fragile thing, a winged thing. Like a thin diaphanous membrane, it changes the color of the world. Under the spell of faith the ordinary shimmers. The mundane becomes miraculous. The daily sunrise and sunset are a call to celebration. The seasons in their majestic turning, a succession of holy days. Every face holds the possibility of love, and strangers are just friends whom we don't yet know.

With faith, even pain like Angela's can hold the promise of new possibility. Grief and heartbreak can become challenges for the soul to grow, imbued with meaning and even nobility. But when faith flies away, its rosy wings gathering the morning light before it, the world turns pallid and sullen. When God moves out of center stage, we move into the spotlight. And we are jealous actors, imagining that the world revolves around our wants and don't-wants. The pettiness of desire turns even triumph into dust in our mouths, because whatever we have is never enough.

Periodically coming to grips with our faithlessness, and the strength of our ego, is part of the journey to God. We don't have to face a crisis like Angela's to find that we are in a questioning period. Whenever we realize that God has moved off center stage, and that we are world-weary, we have reached another crossroads on the journey. Where does the true path lie? What is the real art of happiness? When we are jaded and discontented there is a precious opportunity to deepen faith.

When faith is scarce and the color drains from the world, some people tend toward beer and pretzels. I personally prefer chocolate, movies, and mystery novels that occupy the mind and keep it from dwelling on the dryness of the heart. Through the years I have found that these dry spells, while trying, often lead to renewal and a deepening of faith that requires some course correction in the journey. When all else fails, I often go on a spiritual pilgrimage, hoping that the fragile bird of faith found roosting in some holy place can be induced to nest once again in the deserted rafters of my heart.

I reached such a spiritual crossroads, yearning for a renewal of faith, in 1998. Like one-third of the American population who are religious dropouts, I am nonetheless a spiritual seeker. But I found myself oddly dissipated. Respecting all religious traditions, and enjoying prayers and practices from several, I was feeling a lack of focus. "Waring blender spirituality," composed of a little of this and a little of that, was no longer meeting my needs. I yearned for a community of worship, for the company of like-minded others. I yearned for some stability and focus in my spiritual practice.

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