When people utter an expression of their inner faith, the same words keep on cropping up: God, man, dignity, the future, the earth, forever, and so on. Usually such words have a meaning to me only when my mind is very clear. When I am lying awake at night, or best of all out in the country on my ranch, perhaps going somewhere on a horse, then a wonderful sense of goodness and lightness comes into me, and I can think of life in the abstract. Then I can remember the old Spanish saying: “When I am on my horse, only God is taller than I.”
Yet such times of wisdom are rare in my life and I think in most people’s. It is hard to separate one’s thoughts from the pressures of the moment. Peace of mind is like the country, but active life itself is like a city, crowded with thoughts, faces, impulses, pleasures, obligations, and hopes. How does one travel in that city? How does one think in the crowded city that is life?
My basic belief about this is that I don’t like to ride in taxicabs. Does that sound silly? Let me put it this way. Life is a journey; it’s a ride from here to there. You step out of a door and you go to a door. There’s a clock ticking in front of you that measures off your time. You are charged with that time. You don’t know ‘til the end of the trip what the charge will be. You step out of the cab and say goodbye to the driver, or you just walk away, that’s all, the end of the trip.
How can this be a faith—not to ride in taxicabs? Let’s consider the alternatives. You can ride in a cab, or you can ride in a subway. What about the subway? There, at least you’re not alone. You get on the train, people bang into you, the train buckles and rolls, and the air is bad, it doesn’t smell good, but life is going on there and life doesn’t smell good either. Yet somehow, it’s wonderful.
In the car, there are lots of people, all kinds. Wholesome people, beautiful people, and sick, miserable, depraved people. Maybe you hear the squeak of some horrible music, a blind old woman with a disfigured face is led through the car by a little girl. The old woman is playing a mouth organ. People drop pennies in a tin cup the little girl holds up. Wedged in the corner of the car is a half-witted person babbling to himself. All these are a part of life—our comrades, our fellow wayfarers, riding in a taxicab, one lacks of company.
The way I make the trip then can be my faith. Words don’t count; it’s what I do, and how I like to travel. When I pray, I can lock the door of an office and pray by myself. That’s like riding in a cab. Or I can go to a church. I can pray in a temple or a cathedral, where thousands of people pass in and out every day. They are all praying too. They are taking the same ride I am. And in mingling my prayers with them, I join the fellowship of the world, in humility before the mysteries that surround the journey. I think that is the way to take the ride.