When you hear the word “faith”, what comes to your mind? Many people associate faith with religion. Some associate faith with the belief in God. Many may think having faith is for idealists and romantics. Who needs faith these days?
Faith and being part of an organized religion are not the same thing. Faith is a daily practice. It’s a life-long journey and a way of being. You know when you’re in the presence of someone who has faith. You can feel it in the way they carry themselves. Their presence fills you with more positive energy. The opposite is true as well. You know when you’re in the presence of someone who has given up on themselves and life.
Faith is the return to a state of innocence. Look at babies and children. They naturally have faith. That’s why they are able to be present and look at the world with fresh eyes. That’s why they play and leap with joy at the smallest things. Same thing applies to animals. They also embody faith quite beautifully. I find myself so inspired whenever I take the time to observe animals and reflect on their behaviour in general.
Faith and creativity go hand in hand. When you are engaged in creative activities, you declare that you have faith in life and in yourself. And when your being is full of faith, you open yourself up to which is beyond you and bigger than you, the creative ‘daimon’ as the Greeks called it. This is when magic really happens.
Having faith in life and faith in the universe keeps us grounded and rooted in life. Faith acts like a constant reminder of our interconnectedness with all beings.
Many scholars and authors have written about how primitive man lived with faith, since he lived in harmony with nature and believed in magic, he didn’t know the natural laws that modern man knows. Modern man, on the other hand, detached himself from nature and established dominance over nature and other creatures. Indeed, my faith is renewed when I remember that I am connected with other humans, animals, plants, birds, planets, and the stars and when I indulge in activities that remind me of this interdependence and connection like when I go for a walk or a hike, stargaze, feel the fresh breeze at the beach, or when I spend time with children, animals, or my very favourite, babies! 🙂 This gets me ‘out of my head’ and reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself, much bigger. It’s a blissful feeling that we can all relate to.
The book behind the inspiration for this article is The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho.
Here is what resonated with me the most from the book:
1- Elijah (the main character) struggled and wrestled with God on his path. Contrary to popular ideas about ‘submitting to God’s will’, It’s not a sin to get angry at God, at the universe for the suffering that we feel, for the confusion, for the despair. In fact, Paulo argues that it’s part of the path. Only when we wrestle with God do we truly get blessed, because we demonstrated courage as warriors and fought ‘the good fight’. This is an expression of our free will, we must not submit; we are called to choose.
2- I really appreciated how Paulo depicted Elijah (based on the biblical character) in a very human and unique way in this book. Elijah went through moments of sadness, despair, and felt like giving up many times throughout the book. He also experienced self-doubt and thought that God made a mistake by choosing him for a grand mission. These feelings are very real, raw, and relatable. This reminds me of a quote by Viktor Frankl in Man’s search for meaning. “it’s not about what we expected from life but what life expected from us”.
How can we have faith? and why? who cares?
I think faith is about training yourself to see the order amongst chaos and disorder. I say ‘training’ because it takes discipline and strength to look further and reflect. it’s a mental attitude; a shift in your conscious attitude. This is reflected in nature quite nicely. There is chaos in the world however there is also order in this chaos. There are governing laws in this world, aren’t there? To me, faith is having an eye for the hidden ‘laws’ that govern our lives. I am not saying that it’s easy to see order in the midst of chaos. I am saying that we have the ability to do so. It’s natural and human to feel despair in life at certain times. In these instances, faith will always be around to support us when we’re feeling despair. If we are patient enough, we will understand later on why we had to go through certain things.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an inspiring, thought-provoking novel about a hero’s journey with faith. I guarantee that you will find yourself relating to the character of Elijah in the book in some way or another.
I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from The Fifth Mountain.
“Souls too, like rivulets and plants, needed a different kind of rain: hope, faith, a reason to live”.
“You have discovered how everything is simple, having courage is enough”.
“When a man journeys toward his destiny, often he is obliged to change paths. At other times, the forces around him are too powerful and he is compelled to lay aside his courage and yield. All this is part of the apprenticeship”.
“There are moments when tribulations occur in our lives; and we cannot avoid them. But they are there for some reason. what reason? That is a question we cannot answer before, or even during, the trials. Only when we have overcome them do we understand why they were there”.
“Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and not forsake it from time to time; but what he must not do is forget it. Whoever doubteth not himself is unworthy- for in his unquestioning belief in his ability, he committed the sin of pride. Blessed are they who go through moments of indecision”.
“All life’s battles teach us something even those we lose. When you grow up, you’ll discover that you have defended lies, deceived yourself, or suffered for foolishness. If you’re a good warrior, you will not blame yourself for this, but neither will you allow your mistakes to repeat themselves”.
“Take advantage of the chance that tragedy has given you; not everyone is capable of doing so”.
“He had fled from doubt. From defeat. From moments of indecision. But the Lord was generous and had led him to the abyss of the unavoidable, to show him that man must choose-and not accept- his fate”.