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January 15, 2022: Faith and Hope

I have heard said that if you commit to being in the present moment, that there is no need for hope. In other words, Buddhists and the like think that hope is an illusion.

I like the Buddhist religion. I like how meditation better enables one to make the mind/body connection. I like that focus on the present. I like it that they sift soil when they use it and save the worms. Yes, this would be the religion for me. Problem is, to be a proper Buddhist, or a proper anything, you have to put the time into your practice.

Readers select books at the Meeting House

It’s not that I lack discipline. Rather, it’s that I have a lot going on. If Pete didn’t make our meals I would live on popcorn and chocolate and goat milk. His high degree of attentiveness, in regards to our nutritional needs, has been a dogsend.

Pete doesn’t have the time that’s needed to invest in being a Buddhist either. If it’s a choice between Buddha and bagels, he’s going with bagels.

I have ceased to hope for things, my focus being more on present day concerns. But the question that has arisen is, how do you define faith and how does it differ from hope? Faith, defined, is belief. You believe in what you are doing (and what you are doing is present tense stuff), and more than likely, you’ll achieve the desired results.

Some would say that according to this definition, that Adolf Hitler had faith. He believed that the Jews were the inferior race, and he set out to annihilate them. A terrible twist of the definition, for sure. I’d say that Adolf wasn’t motivated to do what he did based on faith because a key definitional component of faith is that it’s to the good. When we have faith, we are seeking the truth. Adolf was attempting to avoid it.

The question is, does one have to believe in a higher power in order to have faith? I think not. When the chips are down, faith alone will get you through. Existentialism leaves me cold, which is something I don’t need, living here in Alaska. Those who have embraced this tenant really don’t have faith; in fact, I’d say that there is the absence of faith.

What’s got me thinking about all this is, of course, the Bright Lights Book Project. I have in the past two years seen the best of human nature. The project continues to grow and flourish because others have had foresight and seen what this might become.

My having faith in this project means that I believe that books will continue to find their way into the hands of appreciative readers. And because I believe, this is continuing to happen. Today, I was working at the storage locker when a handful of Head Start teachers appeared and began going through the children’s books that I’d set aside. We all later reconvened at the Meeting House and were joined by more individuals.

The good energy in that space was palpable. It’s like poet Adrienne Rich once wrote: “A wild patience has taken me this far.”

Next: 16. 1/16/22: Trees and God

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