On Faith - Catherine Hanss

         The sky was to be heaven and the earth a temporary restin’ spot for the soul. The trees were supposed to be God’s creation, His gift to us as He shaded us from the sun. Our carefully tended spirits, our hard-worked minds solely His possessions. He held our lives in His cupped hands and whispered down to us the secrets of humanity consolidated into the Bible. But I sat under His trees in the shade of His mercy and did not find His spirit, His presence upon me. I felt the cool relief of the day and the sands shifting softly around me, but I did not feel Him.

         God is said to work in mysterious ways. In times of need you will find Him. He will illuminate your path and grant you salvation, forgiveness for your sins. I came to Him feelin’ that I passed my days in a life half-lived. I believed I had found Him once along the banks of a stream. I was sleepin’ under the cool branches of a willow, whose roots dipped into the water, warm and murky. I dreamed I was swimming in that warm water. Alone, solely alone as I basked in the sun, chest up to the sky. I floated down with the current and then turned and swam back up. The water was the hub on which I turned. I spent years in those shallows soaking up life and energy and beauty. But my musings were interrupt- ed. A soft voice garbled by the water that rushed through my ears. I opened eyes to greet the sun and brought my feet down to the bottom to stand among the muddy shallows.

         A girl as soft as the new day stood a singin’ quietly upon the banks of the stream: “A great day is coming, when our Lord will come to me, oh a great day is coming, going to be free, on the banks of the Jordan we will finally see, our great Lord a comin’, comin’ to find me.” Her murky eyes looked across the water at me. They watched me with complete acceptance, calm and sweet like the day.  When she spoke her voice was melodious and young. She called out for me to join her. So I walked out from warm waters onto the banks of the Jordan. And stood stark and naked in the sun. She came a walkin’ towards me, moving like the cur- rent around me, her breath rushing sweet and hot, and she hissed at me. Low and sharp, it hissed. I heard it through my dreams, and it woke me. Sharp and deadly, menacing, I heard it hissed at me. Low and sharp, it hissed. I heard it through my dreams, and it woke me. Sharp and deadly, menacing, I heard it. I opened my eyes to the shade of willow and heard it. Close to my left, I felt it. So I rolled instinctively to my right. Up from the shade, scrambling to the roots, I felt a big rock under my feet and grabbed at it quickly, fumbling. I found it with my fingers and with a moment found the snake in front of me. I yelled out at it and cursed it, throwing my stone down upon it. I ran from the willow out into the blinding sun and rushed into a new belief. I felt I had found God on the banks of the stream and began my preaching, for I believed so fervently in the power and beauty of our Lord.

         But I changed. Like the passing of the seasons, my faith left me. I searched for it in the desert, in the wilderness believing that I could reclaim it and possess it. I ran away from the noises and the voices of others so that I could rediscover the voice of God. It was said that He would come to each of His believers in their times of need, but He had hid Himself from me. He had hid His mercy and His love, and so I ran deeper into the wilderness searching blindly for Him. What I did not discover till I had left the Joeds was that I did not need His approval, His love. It was my own actions and my own decisions that created faith in Him. My caring for and holding up of people allowed them to believe in His goodness. Their belief in Him was really a faith in me. A faith that our kind would survive off the shoulders of one another. As I was walkin’ among others, I finally came to my conclusion that my morality had a name: faith.