The Snow Roads through the Cairngorms

THE CAIRNGORMS National Park is the largest national park in Great Britain. It lies north of Dundee and south of Inverness, west of Aberdeen and east of the Great Glen, the dead-straight crack in the…


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Faith as a Verb

The active journey of not knowing

I used to know exactly what I believed. It was part of my legacy coming from a long line of believers in sin and salvation, in redemption and reward for the righteous, and in judgment and punishment for the wicked. I grew up believing that Jesus loved me because the Bible told me so. Those two facts — Jesus’ love and the Bible’s authority to proclaim it — were inseparable. I believed them because I knew them to be true.

Moreover, I used to think that by definition faith meant knowing what I believe and making that knowledge the organizing principle of my life. Faith was a series of nouns: “the substance of things hoped for . . . the evidence of things not seen” . . . Faith was truth, and there could be only one. Faith was knowledge — knowing the truth. Faith was a gift — an object, a possession. You either had it or you didn’t. If you didn’t, nothing was more important than finding it. Nothing was sadder than losing it.

When I discovered my irreconcilable differences with the church I grew up in and left in search of some other truth or knowledge, some story I could find myself in, I looked everywhere for replacement nouns. I signed up for the New Age. I thumbed through hundreds of pages of self-help. I learned about visualization and vibration.

I learned to question my concept of reality and to mindfully observe my thoughts becoming things. I met inner guides and channeled masters. I sat for readings. I studied the stars. Ever the late bloomer, I learned that there were as many versions of faith as there were believers, and nearly as many claiming that their version was the truer, more authentic one.

I’ve read with alternate wonder, skepticism, and envy, the writings of those who claim a particular knowledge of truth. I’m amazed by the volume and variety of revelations. I’m humbled and sometimes intimidated by the tireless human drive to nail a definitive truth to the page.

We all seem to want a bible, even if it’s not that one. Those who grow up reading and believing in that one, but for whatever reasons, decide it doesn’t tell their story, often end up replacing it with…

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