The echo of a precarious faith
The assumption here [in reference to St. Augustine] is that faith is not to be confused with certainty; the only thing people can really count on is longing and the occult directives of desire. So, Augustine wonders, does that mean prayer must come before faith? Illogical as it is, perhaps not-knowing is the first condition of prayer, rather than its negation. — Patricia Hampl
I rarely researched, preferring instead to work without a net–which may simply be another way of saying that I longed to fall. To fall, that is, and to hear what the descent had to say.
Our public space has become a matter of allegiances…and as I worked on these pieces…I would wonder, in my uncertainty, where all the other people are who don’t know, don’t understand. Are we–the hesitant, the conflicted–all alone?
And finally this:
What I’ve collected here, of course, are a bunch of scrappy incondite essays, not prayers, but behind each piece, animating every attempt, is the echo of a precarious faith, that we are more intimately bound to one another by our kindred doubts than by our brave conclusions.
That, I thought. Perhaps that is the echo I’ve been waiting for all of this time.
A few days ago I was on Skype with my best friend, the two of us–one in Hamilton, one in New Jersey–hemmed in by the cold and the snow. Sometimes I think we’ve travelled a long way from our beginnings as roomates in that cobbled Scottish town, and then we see each other’s faces online and smile and wave and I think: maybe not. Maybe you don’t travel that far so much as boomerang out from one another, and then back.
I’m so antsy, these days, and at the same time I feel so settled. My little house. My walk to work. My music lessons and now the neighbourhood gym and cozy nights with a million books, a million movies, a million new shows (countdown to House of Cards in three…two…one…), so many ways to keep oneself occupied. The angst that filled my twenties is not there, but most of the time now I feel like the faith that filled my twenties is not there either. And I’m not devastated by this so much as I’m just generally sad about it, unsure of how to move through the world when you have this creeping suspicion that it really is just chaos. When your refusal to let go of things entirely feels not so much like strength as stupidity. You don’t want to let go of that belief because in the end, you just can’t hack it, the thought of being out there, spinning alone under the stars.
And so you surround yourself with nice things and music and TV shows that take your mind away from it all and yes you write, but not as much, and on some level it doesn’t even feel like that big of a deal. You talk to your best friend on Skype and there’s some sad comfort in knowing that she feels the same way, that all of your dreaming and talking and hopes from all those years ago have somehow managed to fade just a little, just enough. Is this adulthood? This being too tired to think in terms of ideals anymore?
Or is it, in its own way, just another kind of grappling with doubt, and do you come out of this too, eventually, the sky above you dark and quiet, the light still making its way to you, past the years and distance?