I am not a person of faith. Though I participated in religious services as a child, I no longer do. I’m not sure if I had faith then, but I did believe what I was told. I didn’t question whether there was a God because the adults said there was one. High school English and history teachers planted the seeds of doubt. They germinated and were nurtured by my college professors and by the time I was out of college, I no longer feared eternal punishment, because I didn’t believe. But I never had real faith. Having faith means believing without proof. I didn’t do that exactly I believed out of fear and because people I trusted told me it was true – as a child that amounted to proof.
My lack of faith led me to science and underlies the way I try to approach the world: I want to know why and how. So I ask questions, poke at things and often get burned.
This last week I’ve been thinking about faith because of winter’s grip on our weather. Spring is coming. This feels like faith, though it’s not like religious faith. I can’t prove that it will warm up next week or next month. I have faith in my prediction though because of previous springs. I’m also beginning to see signs.
This Monday I noticed that my first daffodil had bloomed. Soon we’ll see apple blossoms and, I can’t wait, lilacs.
The daffodil came up in a corner of the yard that was massively disturbed by construction last year. I thought they’d be gone and yet they came up as if nothing had happened. Beautiful and perfect.
Down in the garden I’ve got some peas that aren’t germinating. I know they should: I soaked them overnight, planted them the right depth and have been careful not to water them too much. I even covered them with remay to keep the nasty, brutish, seed-stealing birds from digging them up. Yet they aren’t peeking through yet.
Here is where I might do well to listen to Wham’s former front man who tells us that “you’ve got to have faith.” I find myself wanting to dig up little spots to see if the seeds have started germinating under the soil. This won’t do of course. I need to have faith, but this isn’t religious faith, because an experiment could be performed.
Nevertheless it brings to mind the idea that perhaps spring, or at least the seasons, were the phenomena that trained humans to have faith in things. Other animals don’t have “faith” because they don’t have consciousness, but because we do, we question. Will the sun rise? Will the leaves fall? Will the lilacs bloom in the dooryard again? Yes they will. I can easily see how the continual re-affirmation we got for these questions would lead to a belief in a first-mover. I can’t go there.
Then again, I’m probably going to go dig up a pea to see if they’re germinating.