A Minor Faith

imageThe notes of the cantor’s dark and haunting songs call out this time of year, resonating through the gray and barren landscape. The minor chords ring through the chilling winds, fall down with cool rain drops, and my heart beats in response. It is a time of darkness, when the ease of spring is held at bay by the melancholy of the slow thaw. It is in these moments, I believe the deepest.

I have a minor faith.

My faith is small, stretched thin like the skin on a timpani drum, resonating when struck. It is real, engrained through muscle memory; years of standing, kneeling, singing, responding, have carved a home deep within my heart for faith to reside. Doubt has made its residence there as well, and the two have become close companions, an odd couple that govern my minor faith.

With belief comes answers, but more questions still. I have seen no more pain than anyone in this world, but have lived it just the same. I have watched a grown man cry, left homeless by the world and forgotten on a sidewalk. I have seen flies buzz around a baby’s head, no mother left alive to shoo them away. I have felt my own body fail me time and again, and baptized my children through the tears that fell on their heads as I waited for the heavy fog of early motherhood to part and set me free. My faith provides little answers to these unformed questions, but in these moments, only it makes sense.

In school my loves were anthropology and religion, as I was fascinated by the multitude of answers we have created to the same questions, questions that have vibrated through generations since humans first walked the earth. Who are we. Where did we come from. Where are we going. We have quenched the thirst these questions create with food, bread grown from dirt, with prayers shouted from mountaintops and whispered in hearts, with songs that shout joy, and songs that taste more bitter than sweet. Nevertheless, the thirst remains, and the thirst is my answer.

I believe. I believe in one God, and in bread broken, eaten with strangers sharing soup suppers in church basements. I believe in wine, in bottles passed between friends and spilled in laughter. I believe in songs sung in minor chords, candles that shine in dark moments, and a faith too vast for answers to be so easily found. I believe in the symbols, and in the questions which they answer.

Faith takes its place in this minor chord, singing softly between hope and love, notes I can hit more easily. My faith is not the greatest of these or of anyone’s, but it is my own. I will continue to  give it a home and find mine in it, whether I have more questions than answers, whether the world houses more pain than relief. It is my center.

I have a grand and minor faith.

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