The Transylvania Times -

The Journey Inward: Pooh, Piglet And A Little Treatise On Faith

 

August 10, 2017



By Dr. John Campbell

Pooh and Piglet are facing either a rising or setting sun, we don’t know, as they walk along. Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. Pooh” he whispered. “Yes Piglet?” “Nothing” said Piglet,” taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” (A.A. Milne)

Poignant isn’t it? Piglet risked reaching for Pooh’s hand: perhaps an act of faith?

Where is the comforting hand when we too are afraid? But are we of little faith? Are our hands tightly fisted from fear and the need to control in order to maintain our grasp on the world?

Isn’t it true that we wear ourselves out attempting to acquire desired outcomes? I call this part of me “the eternal quest to play God.” We think about a past long gone or a future when things will be better. Present moments disappear while we are making other plans.

We believe that if we do the right things our life will turn around.

In our culture we have been offered a happiness agenda. We want to be happy all the time and spin ourselves into a pretzel to avoid unease. We put pressure on others to conform to our expectation so they won’t disturb us. We base our happiness on events outside of us.

In my case, when I feel a swell of anxiety moving up my rib cage, I know I am in a place of uncertainty. I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t like fear either. So then I spring into action to quell the discomfort. Only problem: I ultimately fail to create an orderly, predictable, and safe world. Just think, I live in a family. Any more proof necessary?

When we recognize these patterns and our powerlessness, we are ready for faith. Faith is the opposite of control and releases our need to have everything go our way. The effort is toward opening the hand and reaching for a power greater than ourselves. Faith is the intuitive sense that something beyond our limitations and powerlessness holds life together.

Sometimes we experience the absence of God when we reach out. Absence allows us to discern our intentions: do we want God to intervene and restore our familiar controls. If so, we are not much better off.

Perhaps the hand of support comes in the form of trusting the unseen when there is no answer. We move from answer to feelings, which may include our fear, pain, depression or other “just is” places that we don’t like.

A favorite New Testament reading for many is verses from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. We read: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear…By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called out to go to a place …and he went out not knowing where he was to go.” (Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-9)

Isn’t moving ahead as Abraham without knowing where we are going difficult? That’s true for all of us. Isn’t it? A diagnosis, a family crisis, financial concerns, and aging - the challenges are myriad - but if we relinquish our fervent need to control and face reality on its own terms we are in a much better position to bring about resolution.

In other words, we experience faith. Let go and trust God - the Unseen Mystery. Reach as Milne pictured Piglet doing when he took Pooh’s paw and said: “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

(Dr. John Campbell is a semi-retired resident of Brevard)

 
 

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