Blackbird sits atop the virgin white snow, cold and weary.
A thousand lonely birds sit broken by the harsh winter.
Blackbird spreads its slick, coal wings, and ascends into the heavens.
A thousand blackbirds see and take flight.
Blackbird soars into greater heights.
A thousand specks of dust speckle the sky.
The silence of winter is disturbed by the angry flaps of wings.
A thousand feathers shower the bleached earth.
Daylight turns to midnight at the sight of a thousand blackbirds.
Blackbird falls, striking the earth with a violent thud.
A thousand blackbirds plummet and the earth is assaulted with feathered bullets.
A single soul sees Blackbird and buries its meager body beneath an icy grave.
A single soul mourns a thousand frozen memories.
They say that love is perfection; Divinity at best. No purer words can define love because we taint it with our vicious words and corrupt thoughts. Love is indescribable. It is an infinite well that draws humanity into its depths. The human mind cannot grasp infinity and therefore cannot comprehend love as it ought to be. Love is not always patient nor is it always kind. Love is in fact, messy, painful and confusing. But among the muck and mire, love proves itself over and over. Through those imperfections, love forgives, heals and delivers.
And when there are no words to be said,
Love is the air that we breathe; a sweet song on our lips.
Love is the bitter early morning cold that nips frost-bitten salutations into our ears.
Love is the glowing warmth of honey-dipped sunsets, coating the sky with amber farewells.
Love is the moon, standing firm amid the angry black sky.
Love is the ocean, engulfing creation into its deep expanse.
Love is not the bold trembling of thunder, but the quiet murmur of the heart.
Love is the withered petals of a rose, long after its beauty has diminished.
Love says, “I’m sorry,” and surrenders its pride.
Love improves, grows and expands.
Love doesn’t give up, though it struggles to persevere.
Love is abounding, constant and true.
Love remains pure after it has been defiled.
Love is made complete in brokenness.
And when we are too blind to see or too deaf to hear,
Love holds us together when we are bursting at the seams with grief.
Love is the warm embrace after our bodies have wearied from the burdens of life.
Love is the captor of our soul and the champion of our spirit.
Love is ever-present, all-consuming and all encompassing.
I am not the first nor am I the last to experience a crisis of faith. In fact, everyone, at some point or another in their lives has experienced this inexplicable battle between conscious, static truth and transient revelation. I find it especially common among college students and twenty-somethings who wander off into the great mysteries of this world, conceivably prepared to take on indiscriminate challenges, only to find themselves stuck in a deep abyss of doubt.
But what I have found most often is that doubt becomes a catalyst for personal triumph and a deeper understanding of this complicated life. Many faiths, especially within the Christian tradition, condemn and even demonize doubt in a believer equating its quaint necessity as a form of sin. The greatest misfortune is that it leaves no room for the believer to pose plausible questions that cannot be answered with a simple prayer. Unrestricted faith requires room for a certain level of doubt. Sound faith is not blindly accepted but rather earnestly tested. Doubt may waiver the believer’s demonstration of faith, but it strengthens the process of understanding. When one questions the very integrity of a particular belief system, it forces one to look for answers outside of what one has been taught.
Existentialists like myself continually question the purpose and validity of life, the existence (or nonexistence) of God and the overall depravity of this world. The process is both challenging and rewarding because one partakes of the fruit of wisdom and acclimates openness throughout the process. You see, when one has the audacity to literally “think outside of the box,” tremendous things can happen. In my personal journey, I have learned that God cannot be restricted to a certain ideological box. The propensity for humans to categorize things is both natural and tragic, for it is the human psyche which holds the power to create and destroy. As Maimonides so aptly stated, God’s essence can only be described in terms of negation;—God is not not benevolent, God is not not omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc. The danger with anthropomorphizing God is that we relate to God in human terms, instead of the ethereal, indefinable and ineffable being that is. What we must understand is that our carnal minds simply cannot comprehend the great metaphysical mystery that has so haunted us for time and eternity. The beauty of life is rhetorical by nature and a magnanimous paradox at best.
I have found that God not only embraces questions, but welcomes them. It is not too preposterous to believe that the unchanging God of all ages, whose revelations are ever-changing, would graciously accept what we cannot understand. If you believe in God and ascribe to a particular faith tradition, that’s great. If you don’t believe in God and believe all forms of religion are rubbish, that’s great as well. The all-consuming quest for the intangible things requires the faith that one’s journey is not meaningless. The gift of doubt lead Galileo to challenge the Catholic church and discover the splendors of the universe. The gift of doubt opened Thomas’ eyes to see the Christ as he truly was. The gift of doubt revealed to Job the inexhaustible complexities of an almighty God.
Doubters are deep thinkers who cannot accept theoretical absolutes at face value until all facets of truth are exhausted. Doubters are exegetes of sacred texts, scientific formulas, and life experiences solely because the desire to understand remains and integral part of being human. For one to not object to these traditional understandings of God, designates implicit passivity. The infinite God, the ground of all finite beings, cannot be defined. “The infinite God is therefore in no sense a thing bearing any resemblance to the finite beings of the empirical world. The infinite God is nothing. At times, mystics also spoke of God in similar terms as the Urgund, the primary ground, the dark unnamable abyss out of which the empirical world has come.” The Nothingness of God is the entirety of all things, be it good or bad. “Perhaps the best available metaphor for the conception of God as the Holy Nothingness is that God is the ocean and we are the waves. In some sense each wave has its moment in which it is distinguishable as a somewhat separate entity. Nevertheless, no wave is entirely distinct from the ocean which is its substantial ground.” The sheer majesty of the universe acts much like his metaphor. Every being is a wave and God is the ocean. And although each creates a small disturbance in the water surrounding it, it is in no way of immense measure compared with the vastness of the entire ocean. To address the disruption of social and religious order requires questioning the very foundation of one’s faith; the God concept. Don’t curse the doubts that you have. Rather, count it a blessing and look forward to the journey that lies ahead.