A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On The Edge Of The Abyss

I spent some time with our rabbits the other day.  I have learned that rabbits are very different from cats and dogs.  It is difficult to tame a rabbit.  They do not like to be held.  There are exceptions of course, but our rabbits are not exceptions.  If I want my rabbits to be my friends, I have to let them come to me in their own time.  So, I was sitting, quiet and still, and letting the rabbits climb about.  I found myself marveling at them.  It is not a surprise to me that I find rabbits miraculous.  Each animal species that has entered my life for long has left me stunned by their uniquely awe inspiring natures.  As a young person, I took beef as a 4-H project and as I groomed my cattle for the shows I was awestruck by the solidity and mass of the leg bone of a steer, stunned by the velvety softness of their freshly clipped brow, charmed by the size and roughness of their tongues.   I also took swine as a 4-H project.  I was awe struck again by the strength of the snout of a pig, the whimsical curl of their tails, the mass of their hind-ends.  I could express similar praises for horses, goats, dogs, cats, deer, turkeys...the list goes on.  Now, I add rabbits.  The softness of our mini-rex rabbits has got to be what heaven feels like tactilely.  The strength and occasional ferocity of one of our angora’s belies the stereotypical timidity and fragility of a rabbit.  I am continually learning more miraculous depth to God’s creation.  
With all this miraculous wonder around me you would think my faith in the Creator would be strong and steadfast.  Instead I find myself wondering:  what if all this beauty and wonder is not the outpouring of a loving creator but rather a glorious goodbye?  What if this is the universe’s way of consoling us as we head into nothingness?  What if there is no God?
This is not to say that I have no faith or that I am experiencing a faith crisis.  Rather this is to admit with brutal honesty that my faith dances on the edge of the abyss.  It ebbs and flows like anyone’s but even when it runs deep it often anchors me in a place that feels less like a safe cradle of love and more like peering into the darkness filled with gratitude for the one who is light.
I don’t think I am alone in this.  I think many people of faith wrestle with dark and deep questions.  I suspect that many more have flashes and moments when doubt creeps in late at night and the stomach plunges and the mouth goes dry and the thought  stampedes past “What if...?”  
So, I come clean and admit the depth and terrors of my doubt because we seldom address such things even in the church, the very place where such things should be addressed.  How often do we even mention the question,  “How do we know there is a God at all?” Or perhaps even better yet:  how often do we consider the question, “What if we are wrong?”  Perhaps it is time we did lest it appear as though we have nothing to say to such questions.
I wonder if there are others who occasionally sit in the pews thinking "What Would Jesus Do" is really irrelevant if there is no God.  I wonder if there are others who sometimes think we are ignoring the elephant in the middle of the room.  Are there times when such questions ramble about in your mind?  What eases your mind at such times?  


Lynn Schlosser said...

I'll raise my hand and acknowledge similar questions. I also affirm that in my experience more people question than appearances might lead us to believe. Talking helps. Hopefully you've just begun some good conversatins. I think a deep faith needs the ragged edge of doubt - kind of a yin and yang sort of thing. Faith is not the same as knowing. Faith is having lots of questions and still choosing to believe in that which can't be proven. Faith is riddled with doubt and paradox too meaning faith is as scary as it is beautiful, as fragile as it is strong.

Laurie said...

When I have doubts, I consider that there is no reason not to have faith. I won't have a definitive answer about God until I die. If there were no God, it will not matter if I had faith or not. Meanwhile, faith has benefit on its own merits. I must admit I'm not real good at faith. I think its a real stretch for many of us engineer types. None the less, I try to push the questions aside, since they are equations I will never solve. I attempt to instead focus on the fact that the general precepts in the Bible are undeniably valuable and true.

Sheri Ellwood said...

Thanks, Lynn and Laurie. It is good to know I am not alone. I have had it pointed out to me that I am a cognitive person in some ways. So I can sympathize with engineer types. I think faith can be challenging for cognitive folks sometimes. On the other hand, reading about science has given me some great boosts to my faith.