When I was very small, I believed in a great many things – faith was very easy to come by. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny (though I never, I admit, knew what a bunny had to do with Easter – or why hardboiled eggs were supposed to be a treat. The chocolate was always good!), the Tooth Fairy, friendships that lasted ‘forever’, endless summers – it was all there. It made sense – my world was small, and filled with wonder. It took me a very long time to ask ‘why’.
Now that I am older, the things that were so easy to believe in in my youth lost their luster. The Easter Bunny was revealed to be a man in a suit, the Tooth Fairy was my mother, caught when she sneezed and swatted me in the head by accident in the process of trading a fang for a fifty cent piece.
…. the jury’s still out on Santa.
I found that ‘why’ only lead to more ‘why’ – it was a lust for answers that made my priests uncomfortable and my science professors greedy.
This year, I mustered the courage to ask the biggest ‘why’ of all: “with the world is as it is.. why do I believe in God?”
I learned then that all beliefs deserved their moment to stand or fail on their merits, rather than the simple platitudes of childhood and the tradition inherent in three decades of life. I watched as friends turned away, as family looked at me askance: daring to even ask such a question was a taboo that I never realized was as strict as it was. It was truly unnerving when I was asked, in the tones reserved for the TV Specials in which unbelieving parents ask their children if they are gay, “Are you /sure/ you’re an athiest? Maybe it’s just a phase!”
It is Christmas Eve, as I write this – and tomorrow, my father is coming over for dinner and to open presents around a tree with my wife and my friends. I am not brave – but I know that despite everything – I have found profound truth in the unfettered love that represents. In the face of his own discomfort, he is coming to join us. To be family.
So – I have come to believe in questions, asked unfettered – and in being open enough to accept the answers. I believe now in examining my life without illusions. Most of all, however, I believe in love – incomprehensible, illogical, crazy, insane, hopeful /love/. I am stunned by it, humbled by it, transformed by it – and realize in its presence that miracles may have a different sort of definition.
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