This seems like a Bleak Winter Sky but the promise is that Spring is soon going to burst forth
I told the story about bamboo and that sometimes things take longer to manifest than we would like. I found myself this past week needing to hear the message once again.
Faith is not something that tests us when things are going our way. Faith is what we need to cultivate when it seems that nothing is going our way.
We need to find some modicum of trust in the power of the universe. We need to believe that it is actually working in our favor. That things will work out, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The finding and cultivation of faith is not easy, but if it were, it would not be something we’d strive to do. Like a marathon, not everyone has the desire to train and test their endurance. Finding faith is a lot like training for a marathon – it takes the same kind of daily vigor. Instead of it being a physical challenge, finding faith is a spiritual challenge.
My friend Sherri went on a walk a few weeks ago and sent this photo to me.
There was something full of hope in it. The sky was blue, the trees were stark, and yet, it was still beautiful. The weather in Chicago has been a little crazy lately. We have had days where it was 70 degrees and sunny, only to plunge into a deep freeze. We even had snow a few weeks ago!
We who live in Chicago know that despite our crazy weather, this is normal for this time of year. Actually, this time of year there is no normal. It feels like winter will be endless and spring will never come, but eventually it does. It just doesn’t look like it will. That is a metaphor for life. When things are the hardest, when it doesn’t look like anything is going to work out, it does. It may not work out the way you had planned but it still works out.
This past month, I tried to sell my parents’ condo. Yes, I’m a rabbi rather than a real estate agent but I figured I’d help out a friend. She loved the condo and my parents loved her. It was easy and seemed a win-win proposition. We were all so sure it would work out favorably. We were sure we’d have this deal closed and signed within weeks, no problem. Then the problems began…the buyer was close to obtaining a mortgage, but she had some issues from her past. The mortgage loan officer went above and beyond to plead her case before the underwriter. She asked for a hardship exception but, alas, the loan was not approved. The deal fell through. I had great faith. Faith in the deal, faith that things would go favorably for me. It never occurred to me that I didn’t have faith in God.
Needless to say, I was despondent. I was so sure that this was “God’s will.“ How could it not be? It was going to help her, it was going to help me, it was good for my parents. (By now, I should know that anytime I say something is “God’s will” for me, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.)
I don’t have a clue what God’s will is for me or for anyone else for that matter.
However, this one threw me. I was angry at God. I had the hubris to ask the question, “Why didn’t this go my way? “
Whenever I ask this ‘why’ question, it means I am playing in a dangerous neighborhood. The answer is that it’s none of my business why this didn’t work out. It’s God’s business, and God didn’t happen to consult me on what I wanted when this deal went down. It reminded me a lot of the time when I had the miscarriage and I asked the ’why‘ question. I was powerless then and now. The answer to the “why” is – because this is where we have to let faith enter our lives.
Faith is easy to have when things are going our way, but can we have it when we don’t know the outcome?
Like the snow in Spring – the evidence is that winter will never end. Of course it always does – just never in the time we think it will. So, when the “snow is on the ground“ we still have to have faith that Spring is coming and will soon be here. Maybe we will get to know why things worked out the way they did. Perhaps we’ll never know. Here’s the best part: That’s where the element of surprise comes in. When we are okay with not getting our way and we put our energies into what we can do about it rather than being angry that it didn’t work out, there’s a miracle brewing.
Think of an oyster. How does a pearl in an oyster actually develop? Sand gets into the membrane of the oyster and stirs it up until a chemical reaction occurs and a pearl is born.
Right now, I’m in the agitation part of the process. No pearls on the horizon that I can see. I’ll have to keep you posted on how the condo situation works out, but know that I am expecting a miracle.
So, I’ll leave you with a meditation that I am using to get me through.
Years ago, I read “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain. Her book gave me a tool to use when things were not manifesting. The quote was, “This or something better now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned.” http://www.shaktigawain.com/
Today I put out to the universe for something better to be manifest for my parents, my friend, for me and ultimately, for all of you as well. Faith is not easy. It’s a test of our spiritual endurance and our willingness to grow spiritually. But I’m up for the challenge and hey, maybe I’ll even get a good story out of the deal. Let’s find out how big God is!
I’m always looking to hear about faith when mine is waning. Let me know if you have recently been through a test of your faith and how you made it through.