"In this world I walk alone
with no place to call my own.
But there's one who holds my hand
the rugged road, through barren lands...
The way is dark,
the road is steep,
but He's become my eyes to see.
The strength to climb
my griefs to bear
The Saviour lives inside me there...
In your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let it be
a living prayer, my God to Thee..."
"A haven from my unbelief..." I remember the first time I heard this little snippet of lyric from Allison Krauss' "A Living Prayer." There was, in her voice, such sweet compassion. A gentle "I've been there" spoke to the place in my heart that sometimes felt tight and tense with blind faith -- the kind of faith that hadn't yet blossomed into understanding.
And it was in the safe harbor of this haven that I finally allowed myself to dive into the deep waters of, "Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief." It was here that I would explore the buoying properties of a new truth. Here I could open up and surrender to a wider, broader view of God and the meaning of His presence in my life -- and in the world.
I can still feel the cool breeze of that late October day. The way it billowed the gauzy white linen curtains. The softness of its touch as it came through the French doors in my office -- open wide to the last golden light of that Indian summer day.
I was sitting at my desk, books and dictionaries spread in front of me. Head in my hands, I was praying for "understanding." When it washed over me, I had been seeking "understanding" as a noun -- something I thought I could get, find, have, own. But in an instant I sensed something new -- something that I had never really grasped in the context of my spiritual hunger. Understanding was a verb -- a way of being in the world. It was something I could be -- rather than have.
Mary Baker Eddy's statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
"...understanding is not intellectual,
is not the result of scholarly attainments;
it is the reality of all things brought to light."
came alive for me.
I had been studying, exploring, searching for understanding. But what I suddenly saw was that if I wanted to be a person of understanding, I had to be an understanding person. I had to be thoughtful, compassionate, non-judgmental -- willing to look at a situation through a kinder lens, with better eyes. I needed to exercise vision -- look at everything through the eyes of understanding, the eyes of love. This divine viewpoint would bring "to light" God's presence in every moment, with every person, through all things.
Understanding became a behavior that transcended my unbelief. It no longer matter what I believed -- or for that matter, what anyone believed. What mattered was what the light of Love revealed about everyone, in every situation. What mattered was whether I was thinking in accordance with Love's understanding of things -- moment-by-moment.
It didn't matter whether someone else felt impelled to share gossip. Or if I was hearing news reports about a terrorist attack on refugees along the Gaza. My response had to be "understanding." To not judge [self]righteous judgment, but to judge every man according to his/her indissoluable relationship with God.
I had the right to affirm that no one could disassociate him/herself from God's presence and power. This understanding of that one true fact, gave me the courage to trust God's Word "to enrich the affections of all mankind and govern them." (from Mary Baker Eddy's "The Daily Prayer"). It freed me to think, speak, and act with kindness, compassion, gentleness, and grace -- no matter what is going on around me. No matter what I may not understand. Whether or not it fit within the paradigm of my own beliefs.
Understanding is my haven from unbelief. Understanding -- compassion, kindness, non-judgment -- is a way of being in the world that lifts us into the space of living love. Within this sanctuary of understanding, we become a practical, effective, breathing, walking, living prayer -- a prayer that heals.
[photo of Lindsey Arthur Tamm by Sune Tamm-Buckle 2010]