I have, after some hesitation, described in this chapter the inner journey that I went on to arrive at faith. But it is not so much an exercise in autobiography as it is a personal reflection and meditation on the nature of faith. I hope in this way to make it clear that faith lies in wait for us, stalks our hearts, as it were, and it is out of our experience of faith that our understanding of it should emerge. The very nature of faith as a personal and loving knowledge demands this.
CHAPTER 1: THE HEART OF HUMAN LOVE
I went through life asleep. I lived, but not fully, and not even aware of what was missing. Sometimes a small faint voice seemed to call, but it was all too easily stifled. But then, one summer day, something happened to wake me from this sleep. It was you.
Everything I took for granted seems to come alive for the first time. The singing of the birds or the laughter of a child awake strange new emotions filled with expectancy. My routines and arrangements are overturned and I find it hard to go on with my usual round of activities, and it is you, the one I love, who has brought about this transformation. I am caught by the twinkle in your eyes, your smile, your words. You have become a new center in my life around which everything else begins to revolve. I want to be with you and discover the depths of you that I dimly perceive, and most of all I want you to return my love. In discovering you I see myself in a new way. I am no longer the center of everything as I was before. Then I did not really understand that there could be another within. Now you are that within, that center. I want to know what you know and see what you see. I want to be let in out of the loneliness and solitude of myself by you loving me. It was only at the very moment when I began to love that I realized how alone I was. If you will love me I have gained something greater than any treasure, but if you won't, I fear that the whole world, which has suddenly come alive, will go dark. I will not only be thrown back into that drab and confining ordinary existence from which you drew me forth, but I will see it and myself riddled with a pervasive selfishness where I am for myself and each creature for itself with no true communion possible.
Love shakes my life, and torments and beguiles me with possibilities that never presented themselves before. And one of these possibilities is greater than all the rest. Out of my love I study you. I want to know all about you. I scrutinize your words and gestures, and then one day I am seized with a pervasive premonition that I must struggle to articulate. You laugh, you smile, you ramble on about this or that, and I am seized with a strange feeling and I am compelled to ask myself, "Why do I love you'?" "What makes you so lovable?" I look at you and must admit that my love for you is not fully dependent on your reciprocation. I started to love you before you really knew me. My love is not wholly founded on you being aware of the magnitude of my love for you. In a certain way, a way in which I must stammer to express, you are lovable because you are. The very fact that you are makes you lovable. The very fact that you exist as a thou in the sight of my love makes you lovable. Your lovability is not simply a production of your consciousness. It is not simply because of what you say or do that you are lovable. It goes beyond that. You are lovable because you are, and part of my love, a deep part of it, is centered on that loveliness, that inner you that you yourself hardly avert to or are aware of. The light that is in your eyes, the sweetness of your smile, awakes in me a strange and poignant longing. I love you but I see that you have not consciously created the you that I love. In a certain way you are not even aware of your loveliness. You are lovable because you are. The very inwardness of you in which my love rests awakes in me a hunger for I know not what. It is as if the light I see in you is not your personal possession. You are translucent, bathed in a light that has its source elsewhere. You are not the ultimate reason for your loveliness.
While these thoughts are forming in my mind and heart I am attempting to win your love, and even when I succeed to a degree, I remain bewildered and enchanted by this light I see in you. I draw closer to you, but the closer I come, even the more you turn to me, the greater that light shines through you and the more I see that its source is elsewhere. You, in your very living inwardness which captivates, you are alive with a light whose source I cannot see. if I love you in and through that light, I must love that light itself, but what could it be? I reason in the concrete reasoning that flows directly from my experience of my love for you: you are and I love you, but you are not the source of your loveliness, that light within you. Therefore, there must be something, indeed, Someone, for how could person come from non-person? There must be Someone who is this light and love. There must be Someone who is love itself and light itself.
But wait. What have I done? I surface from my reveries, from those deep musings of my heart where I ponder my love for you. Wait. I did not plan to pursue any other adventure but the one of capturing your love. Now I am beginning to say words that resemble the words of religion. What can that have to do with my love? Religion evokes images in me of long-robed priests swinging golden censers; images of droning incomprehensible sermons heard as a child about love of God and neighbor; images of hard-faced nuns wielding rulers in crowded classrooms; of a stern God waiting to punish erring thoughts and deeds. What could any of this have to do with my love and its mysterious meanings? The words of religion have become dulled by long usage and abuse. They are shop-worn and scratched, hiding any brilliance they must have once possessed. But I am compelled to pursue the questions thrust upon me by my love. I know that it is the most real thing that has ever happened to me. I cannot go back to the drabness of the past. But how can I go forward, to where, to whom?
It is one thing to try to win your love. I see you. You pervade my senses, and I know you are as real as I am. And the more I love you, and by happy chance, the more I win your love, the more I am doubly dispossessed. First, out of myself into you. And then, most unsettlingly, in and through you, I am thrown by the very force of your being and my love, beyond you, towards that mysterious darkness from which, paradoxically, your light and love come.
Before, I knew the pain and sorrow of trying to love you and win your love. Your smile or frown made the whole world change. I had to break painfully out of the narrow confines of my ego. I had to overturn my perceptions of the world and free my feelings. I suffered dark demons who were jealous of my struggle for liberty, and I underwent torments when I thought you would not love me but someone else.
But now I stand on the edge of an abyss. I have eyes to see the world as it is. My love has broken through the cocoon I once lived in. With a terrible clarity I realize that I had never truly thought about life, or death, or the ultimate sense of things, nor have I ever really thought about the question of God. A dark night seizes me. How fragile everything appears. How easy it would be to lose all my possessions, my career, and I could even lose you. If that light I see shining in you were snuffed out, how could I stand to live in such an utter night? But I can't huddle in the light you give. I must, although with hesitation and with trembling, venture into the darkness to see if I could discern its source. I must turn over the word "God" on my tongue, a word now newly minted out of the fires of my own life. Can there be a God, truly and actually? Could there be a God when all I see is darkness? Not a God commemorated in words and in long-dead deeds, but a living, burning fire of a God Who is Love and Life and the incandescent heart of the very love I feet for you? I shudder before such a possibility. It would demand too much. Who could ever take such a thing seriously? Can't I go and hide myself among the many who say there is no answer to such questions and thus insulated, go about my business? No. This night mocks such a way for me. It fiercely exposes how hollow such hopes are. Should I try to grow rich or famous, lord it over my fellow men, while all around me the very foundations of the earth rumble and shake as if to mock my little arrangements? No. My love has opened a door I cannot shut. If I deny the love I have for you I must confess that I am a coward. If I try to bask in your light and deny what I have seen of its origin and source, I run the risk of destroying the love I have for you by asking of you more than you can give or bear - that you be the light itself, the total completion of my desires. But if I go forth, I advance into a darkness deeper and more painful than the one I had to break through in order to love you. I am forced to see that for myself there are only two ways to understand this night. The first is an answer I breathe in and out in the very atmosphere of the world I live in. It says: No. No reasonable and scientific modern man could believe in God. He is a fairy tale confabulated to comfort the people of old or children today. It serves no purpose for men and women who have the courage to admit there is no ultimate meaning to things. Look at the advances of science. How quaint religion is, clinging to its outmoded beliefs, as it clung to the astronomy of Ptolemy. What kind of God could there be presiding over this world of horrors, watching children starve and men torture and murder each other? Better to tighten our belts and carve out our own meaning amid the chaos.
These words find an echo in me. I have wandered in dark streets in the large cities where men are most alone. But that is not all I have seen. I see the ocean and the flowers, and hear the wind sighing in the trees. I see the splendor of the sunset and children laughing and playing, and I see you, whom I love. What would this first alternative leave me but a vacuum to be filled by the dreams of madmen? What would I do? Struggle for ephemeral possessions? Search for nobility in chronicling a pointless spectacle? Listen to the glorification of evil and stupidity just because men have chosen to do these things? Evil exists, and chaos, but so does love and beauty, and in the pursuit of love I have seen there must be a source for it. I choose the other alternative. I choose to go into the darkness looking for light. And then I find myself alone. I do not have the world on my side applauding me as a modern fellow, scientific, rational, realistic and without illusions, enlightened from the darkness of superstition. Nor do I find that I have believers on my side. They blithely evoke a God, the very possibility of Whom makes me tremble. They say, "We believe." And then live like everyone else. They say, "Have faith." And then greet seekers with trite pamphlets filled with questions and answers. No. They are too glib, too unquestioning for me. I shiver on the brink of the abyss. I need a God Who is the love of my love for you, and as such, is Love in the very midst of a world of pain and sorrow. I need to love this God, but I need to be loved in return. This is the crux of the matter. It is one thing to know that there must be a source for this love and beauty I experience, but I do not want to simply point with my love to the darkness, and say there is a God. I want God to respond to me, to answer me, to love me in return. Somehow, out of this darkness, I want God to touch me as I stand in this world with my eyes open looking at good and evil. While I love you, I want to love that God you have made a possibility for me, and I want Him to love me, just as I wanted you to do. What can it be that draws me into this mysterious darkness? It is the call of faith. To contemplate faith is to dare to imagine that it is possible to know someone beyond the reach of my senses, beyond even the scientific method that we hold so tightly as a talisman of our progress. To contemplate the possibility of faith is to look the evil of this world in the face and say, "What kind of God can be a God who created this world?" Does He turn away indifferent, wring His hands impotently, or can this Person be a Person of Love, still and despite all - a Lover that outloves men, encompasses them at every turn and captures them if they would, not by force, but by Love? Is such a God possible?
This kind of faith challenges not only the kind of possibilities our world would admit, but my heart as well. I suffer from a paralysis of the heart. I saw it when I tried to love you. How much more will it be operative if I dare to contemplate the possibility of loving someone beyond the range of my senses? What a risk it is to truly love each other, but can I risk loving someone whom I cannot see or hear or touch? Perhaps blessed with the love of another person my heart is free to dream of a greater love, but this does not spare me the risk and darkness.
This knowledge does not release me from the darkness that faith has to penetrate. In fact, it can intensify it. My reason under the impact of these emotionally laden experiences is shaken to its intuitive depths and sees that the very one I love demands a source of this love. But it does not yield this source to me. I know that God exists with the very certitude I find in loving you. This most real experience demands that He be. But when I look about and when I look in my own heart, I do not see Him. And I have no sense of how I can find Him. I suffer a laceration of spirit, for the conviction of my reason does not penetrate my whole being. Even if I throw aside the obstacles that darken my mind and heart, I don't know where to go and what to do. Can I really love someone who is not present to me like you are? I don't know what faith is. I fear to launch myself into the darkness, for it appears like an act of irrational folly, and yet I fear to hold back, for some instinct moves me in that direction. But one thing is not in doubt: God has become a very real question, and I have to search for an answer in the very fabric of my life and in that place where I make my most important decisions. Since the question is real, I genuinely begin to look for an answer. I put the past behind me with all my prejudices about religion and the debilitating images of childhood. I listen for the first time to the Scriptures and the story of Jesus. I ponder the words of the Gospel. They become the counterpoint to the adventure within. Inside, in a crucible of emotions and by my love itself, I am being transformed. I sum up what has been happening: I have become sensitized to the whole of creation in and through you, and I have become aware of you as you, as a deeper and richer dimension of existence. But the more I enter into this heightened perception, the more it draws me to that mysterious depth within you. If you are, if you exist, with the existence now no longer dull and ordinary but newly coined, I find myself before the very mystery of existence. I am thrust by my love to encounter a reality that transcends it. I cannot stay within the very sensible perceptibility of our love, for it, in itself, by its own exigencies, its own inner gravity, draws me to its heart and thrusts me beyond us both. And this beyond is not a theory, a dry abstract conclusion of logic, but the ineluctable issue of the love I experience. I can say, I am compelled to say, that our love demands that God exist. I am forced to this by the force of our love. If I were to deny it, I would deny you and fall back into loneliness, to face in growing despair a world gone sterile. But this God I am compelled to acknowledge at once makes my mind soar in joy and bewilders my heart. The whole experience of my love with its palpability, with the secret language of lovers, with its unrequited longings and deep resting in the other, becomes distilled and concentrated until it reaches a peak of tension from which bursts forth a lightning stroke of intuition, an intuition that compels me to acknowledge the existence of a God, as the foundation of all I see in you of goodness and truth and beauty. It is a dazzling leap of the mind.
Yet, in my very exultation I am led into darkness. It does not give me God, reveal Him to me, but simply concludes that He must be there and my heart can never be satisfied with that. Once I loved you from afar, tongue-tied with longing but afraid to express my love lest you turn away. Then came the glorious moment when all my slow approaches, all my stammering, all my torments found an instant recompense. You turned and looked at me with love. Long-festering wounds began to heal; cleavages deep within my psyche began to be bridged. In that one electric moment I was no longer alone looking at a world that did not care.
But this love, more precious than anything else in this world has led me to an ever greater longing. My mind affirms that God must be, but my heart fears to reach out to Him. I fear that there will be no one there, that such a move would defy reason, both my own and the whole world's. Before, nominal believer or not, I was safely asleep. Such questions could not be real to me. The world went its way and me with it. But now you have awakened me. And my mind, filled with being modern and scientific, fights with my mind which has newly discovered its metaphysical roots. My heart, once closed and defensive, has begun to open to the warmth of your love, but it falters before the height and depth and breadth of love thus revealed.
But how will I answer this question of love? I fear to say no, for it would leave me without any hope and deny the love I have already experienced. But I fear, as well, to say yes. A yes would commit me far beyond a Church service or an occasional prayer. It commits me to actually believe - whatever the mystery is that is enfolded in that word - and if I actually believed, how would I act? The implications of faith are frightening. I am face-to-face with the possibility of God as a loving father or mother or lover who can turn to me as I turn to Him. And having grown up in a nominally Christian world, I must decide about Jesus, as well. This is where the idea of God as Father originated for me, at least in words. The name of Jesus is all about me, both as a blessing and as a curse. If God can turn to me, has He not set the precedent in the whole story of the Jewish people, and the story of Jesus? I have been reading the Gospels and they bring into focus both what is at stake in faith and what a transformation of life it would mean to believe. Now my doubts, if no more intense, are multiplied. A child born in poverty, raised in obscurity, crucified like a criminal, a man like I am, who walked the dusty roads of Judea and Galilee, who healed the sick and talked of the coming of God's kingdom, a man who is tortured and killed, all this, I can believe. But that he rose again, is this possible to believe? Here is a man who makes himself in his words and deeds more than just a man. Did God raise him up as an affirmation of his special relationship to Him? The formless darkness I was groping in, that night that existed beyond my love for you, now begins to have a certain shape and texture. My discovery that God must exist, far from relieving my problems, accentuates them. By making me face the question of faith a new space in my heart has been created, and if initially it was empty, now it draws on my store of memories and evaluates them anew, and chief among these memories are the religious images and doctrines of my childhood. For the first time I know the question that they are meant to be the answer to. Into this new space, these coordinates of interpretation, comes the most important image: that of Christ Himself. I see Him for the first time, and I listen with my heart in a new way. But at the same time my doubts have something concrete to fasten themselves to. I fall into a world of proof and counter proof. Did Jesus actually exist? Did he say what was ascribed to him? Did he work miracles? Did he claim for himself a special relationship with God? Did he die on the cross, and most important of all, did he rise from the dead? History, archeology, literary criticism, my own conception of what human nature is like and what it is capable of, all enter into this interior debate. I have no desire to leave my reason behind, and believe simply what I will to believe, whether that will is to assert or deny.
I find a book called The Problem of Jesus by a Frenchman, Jean Guitton. He calls it a free thinker's diary, and though I cannot follow all the twists and turns of his subtle and brilliant reasoning as he relentlessly questions himself about the existence of Jesus and his claim to be God, and His resurrection, I am comforted. Here is a man not afraid to think, and he thinks well and shows how reason is led to the brink of faith.
I look at the Church and I still find myself torn in two directions. I see its weaknesses and faults, its hunger for power and rich living, its rigidity and lack of compassion, and yet I see men and women who devote themselves to the love of God and the love of their fellow man. I see them caring for the sick and the hungry, hear of them laboring in far-off corners of the world. I even hear strange tales that no one seems to refute with hard evidence: miracles at Lourdes, the mysterious image of a man on the Shroud of Turin, the image of a lady imprinted on the rough cloak of a poor Indian, in such detail that it shows his reflection in the pupils of her eyes. But the wistfulness stirred up by things both strange and beautiful is shattered by Christians as warlike as any pagan, and as addicted to the things of the world. These interior debates go on for a long time. I reread the Scriptures wondering what kind of man would have talked and acted like Jesus. Would a conscious imposter have done so? Would a madman have been able? His disciples I can understand, at least in their weakness and desires for an earthly kingdom. Even their obtuseness in understanding his remarks, and, yes, even their cowardliness in running away and letting him go to his death almost alone. All this sounds like a real story. But what of his resurrection? If these stories are a fabrication, why don't they seem to agree on all their details? And why do they say that his very disciples had difficulty in recognizing Jesus? And I try to explain to myself what could have happened to these weak men to make them so bold in such a short time after Jesus' death? What made them able to face the possibility of death and still speak about him? I review my arguments. Each objection I counter with an equally probable answer, which in turn engenders another objection, which again finds its answer. My reason has been given full reign, but as time goes on it begins to reach an impasse. It can answer objections and conceive new ones, but it cannot put me before the truth and substance of the matter. It cannot deliver an irrefutable proof that will compel my assent. My reason is powerless to sum up the matter and come to a final decision. I must admit it points in the direction of Jesus. It convinces, but it does not compel.
Then it dawns on me where to look for the solution. My reasonableness which I pride myself upon and the world values cannot dispense with the heart. This is a discovery that is born out of my love for you. I have to let the heart have its say, not in opposition to reason, but as its culmination. My heart has listened attentively to reasoned debates, and now it has to consult itself. Again it sees two paths before it: one, despite its glitter, leads ultimately to no meaning. Things have no ultimate sense. We mark time, pleasantly or unpleasantly, but in the end we are dead and gone. The other leads, despite its difficulties, to the acknowledgement of ultimate meaning - not a meaning which makes everything shining lights and sweet sentiments, but one that can endure all that is evil in this world and triumph over it. It is a meaning, if I dare to say it, that finds its fitting symbol in the cross of Jesus and his resurrection. My heart looks within itself. It tries to reach beyond its normal range and endure the pain caused by a lifetime of lack of use and abuse. It stretches its atrophied muscles. It sees before it the mysterious person of Jesus, undiminished by all the arguments. I see Jesus on the Sea of Galilee with his fishermen friends. I see him cure some old lady, twisted and bent with pain. I see him feed the crowds with the small boy's barley loaves and fish. I see him in the garden in anguish surrounded by his sleeping friends, and in torment, put to death by the brutal efficiency of the Roman soldiers. But can I see him risen? I read the Gospel accounts painted in vivid, strange colors. Mary Magdalene, who mistakes him for the gardener. The disciples on the way to Emmaus. His appearance to the disciples who disbelieve for joy. How he ate the fish and honey comb. The doubts of Thomas. Jesus standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee cooking fish over a charcoal fire while Peter splashes through the water toward him.
Each objection has been countered by an equally plausible response. If I am not compelled to believe, I have no reason not to believe as long as I do not say to myself, "This cannot be." "This is too far removed from my view of the world and what the mind of my world will allow." But is not such a blanket objection an affair of the heart as well, a heart cramped or fearful? But love has opened my heart due to no merit of my own, and my heart resonates, even in the midst of my doubts, to this inner image of Jesus. His life is a song whose melody persists even while I debate and hesitate and cannot conceive how it is possible to believe such a fantastic story. But my objections are peeling away: the implicit prejudices of my intellectual and social world, my smallness of heart, the grab-bag of once-heard objections to Christianity that dwells within me, but which I never brought out into the daylight and rigorously examined. I have looked at them now. I have not rejected reason but let it have its say and pursued it as best I was able until I reached that point where it is necessary to let the heart speak. If the heart had to consult reason, now it must consult itself. I look into the distillation of all that I have found, that nest of intimate feelings I have accumulated about life and its direction and purpose. Now it is no longer a matter of reason alone, but of inner aspirations and longings, and most of all, that secret knowledge of the heart that is so difficult to speak about.
I began to learn that language when I began to love you. It was a matter of those inner reachings when I tried to draw close to you and be one with you, by which I risked myself in the possibility of rejection in order to win that moment when you would turn to me in love. Now I must face an even greater risk. It is to reach out to that God Who exists and to whose existence I somehow assent to, but Who remains in darkness. It is to reach out to Him, to seek to be one with Him, and risk myself in order to win that moment when He will turn to me in love, indeed, to accept that He has been waiting for me to realize that His love has been always reaching out to me. There are no guarantees. Just as I cannot force your love or protect myself totally against the possibility of rejection, I cannot reason to the conclusion that God loves me and has sent His Son as a visible manifestation of that love, and simply affirm this conclusion with my will as I would sign a contract. No. When all is said and done, the final moment comes in which, in darkness beyond the reach of certitude of reason, I must choose with my heart to reach out in love or not to reach out.
I have to reach out with my heart and make that small and secret movement that is greater than anything else I can do. I have to reach out in that darkness and say to that God Who cannot be seen, "I love You and I will try to draw close to You - You draw close to me!"
Finally I do it. I am still surrounded by darkness, but step by painful step I begin to break that deep paralysis of my heart. I can pray, for what is prayer but this inner movement of love by which I reach out to God in the darkness of faith? Slowly this darkness becomes a more companionable one, a more peaceful and tranquil darkness.
In what way do I experience my faith? My human experience is intimately bound up with my senses and the actual tangible presence of the thing I am experiencing. This was true in my experience of my love for you. Now, if this experience led me to assert that God must be, there in the darkness, it has also led me to desire to experience Him in a way similar to the way I experience you. In faith, do I have such an experience? Certainly I don't have a tangible experience of God's presence. Whatever may be the sentiments and consolations that I do experience when I exercise my senses and imagination in picturing the life of Jesus, I cannot identify them with my faith. They come and go, but my reaching out to God remains. Can I call what I experience in faith, then, an actual experience of God? When I read what the mystics say about their own experiences there is something in them that attracts me. I don't have them myself, but I can say, "This is how the experience ought to manifest itself if it were to grow to full stature." And by the mystic's experience I think of someone like John of the Cross and not visions and revelations. But if I equate my faith neither with mystical experience nor with imaginative visions or sensible consolations, then in what way is it an experience? What the mystics speak about goes beyond all words and images, and it is a loving union taking place in darkness. This is the very thing I sensed was possible, but I am not a mystic. I see that what they speak about must be the culmination of the life of faith, but I live in a much more lowly realm. In what way can faith be an experience for me?
Slowly I have shed the anguish of the darkness I once knew before faith. I have gone beyond the desire for consolation and sensible fervor, and the darkness I find is an almost companionable one. I cannot say that I perceive God's presence as I perceive you, or the earth we live on, nor do I perceive Him as the mystics describe Him, nor am I overly worried by the back-and-forth argumentation of reason that once preoccupied me. It still goes on, but it is muted and in the background. I have come to the conclusion that the roots of my own reason affirm God's existence, and the roots of my own heart urge me to believe in Him and reach out in love to Him. I can articulate my faith in God and in Jesus, but this articulation, as crucial as it may be, is the articulation of this mysterious reality of the heart. What I experience, then, as faith, is the drawing of the heart towards God whom I have accepted. And my acceptance, though not unreasonable, is not simply the affirmation of what reason has made undeniable to me. It is an inner instinct of the core of my being attracted to what is good and beautiful.
And when I follow this instinct and let myself be drawn, I feel at peace in the center of myself despite my surface turmoil and my dislike of the sacrifices that it sometimes imposes on me. When I go against this instinct I begin to lose contact with my inner self, become directionless, lose my momentum. So if my experience is not by way of the senses or the intellect, or some supernatural perception or contemplation of the mystics, it is still a real experience. It is a subtle sense of the life of the heart. By it I see, feel, perceive, what my heart longs for and what it is made for. It is an experience of the goal my life should move towards, of something that is worthy of my whole self and all my energy. When I hear the words of Jesus and see Him depicted in the Gospels, I feel the resonance of these words and the drawing of my heart.
It is not easy to listen to my heart. The more I allow myself to be immersed in a world whose values are incompatible with this mystery, the harder it is to hear the voice of the heart. The more I conceive and demand that this experience of the heart be like my other experiences, that is, visible to my senses, the less I can listen to its delicate murmuring. I have a knowledge which is a knowledge led by the heart, a knowledge of its congruency with the good I am directing my whole being towards. But it is a knowledge led by the heart and therefore vulnerable to my intentions and conduct. It is a knowledge that I can blind myself to. When my heart says that this Jesus and His words are a strong language of love, articulating what my heart desires, I can still turn away. I can build up a web of reasons, a rationale, in order to try to convince myself that the problem lies elsewhere and not in my heart itself. If I go ahead and affirm this love, it does not mean all is settled, for I must, day-by-day, reaffirm it and enter it more deeply. Each day I am presented with the ultimate adventure in the very midst of all the events both great and small that make up my life.
I see the Church in a new way, as well. Without denying the good and the bad that make up its human dimension, I look to it in faith as a visible manifestation of the love God has for us. And it is faith that animates for me its visible structure of leaders and rituals and allows me to see beyond the merely human and let these things speak to my heart and help it and confirm it in its journey of love.
But I think it is also true that my struggle for faith was made more difficult because the Church had let its philosophy and theology become narrowed and channeled along rationalistic lines. This was something I didn't realize until later. I knew now, in an instinctive and unreflective way, that faith was a knowledge through the heart, and I very much wanted to understand the content of my faith from this point of view. But the atmosphere of the Church seemed to say that somehow faith was the outcome of reason and reflection on faith, or theology, accepted its initial data by faith and then employed its intellectual skills to explore this material. This made me uncomfortable and it was only after considerable time and effort that I began to see that this conception of faith drawn from my own experience was, indeed, closer to the genuine notion of faith that had existed from the beginning in the Church, but which had been slowly covered up.
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