I envision faith (in its religious context) as a Rubik’s cube that I turn from time to time, match up some pieces, and then set down again, never considering the possibility of solving it.
During the holidays I found myself in churches—Saint Thomas in New York City to hear their wonderful choir, and a church in Providence for a friend’s memorial service. After the Newtown, CT shootings, God was one of the many topics under discussion. A couple of weeks ago I saw an interesting play called Grace, about an evangelical Christian whose own faith—and world—crumbles, just as those around him begin to find their own. Morning Edition, on NPR, had a series this past week about “losing our religion.” One of the stories covered the rise of people identified as ‘nones’—those who select ‘none’ when asked for their religious affiliation. Some of these ‘nones’ are atheists, but many others simply don’t identify with any specific religion. It was Maureen Dowd’s recent column “Why, God?” that came the closest in helping me solve this perpetual puzzle. She asked a family friend, Father Kevin O’Neil, for his view of recent tragic events in the context of faith. In this thoughtful piece, Father O’Neil says that “Faith is lived in family and community” and he believes God is represented by all of us.
Seen through that lens, “faith” is everywhere around me. The people congregated in the church to grieve for a mutual friend. A neighbor’s helping hand. The acts of kindness people do for each other day in and day out—these things are stronger than bad people and terrible events. They give me hope. So I might count myself as one of the ‘nones,’ not identifying with a specific religion. But my faith in those around me is omnipresent.