Monday, March 03, 2014

Lenten Diary 1

A Crisis of Faith

     Like everyone, I try to forecast the weather. What’s it gonna do today? Tomorrow? How ‘bout over the weekend?
     Here in Norfolk, Virginia, we have some fine weather teams on our local TV stations who do a good job of filling us in. It’s not very often they’re wrong any more.
Rare March view into our modest back yard wildlife sanctuary

      Right now (5:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 3) it’s snowing in Norfolk, as predicted. Snow as a rule will hardly lay on the ground here in March. In fact, we don’t often get snow, even when the rest of the mid-Atlantic does. We get rain instead. Right now we’re getting heavy snow showers and lots of wind with temperatures in the twenties. Not a good night to be on the road. A very good night to stay inside. Most everything has already been canceled.
     But as the curtain of evening descends on this stormy frozen night, shadows creep out in my mind. I may be warm and dry tonight, but what of the years to come?
     And suddenly that storm outside, so picturesque and white, turns into a howling indifference to me or mine or anyone in its path, and all that’s keeping me warm and dry is the money I have to pay for it. Check the bills by the window sill and tell me how long it can last.
     And that, dear reader, was a crisis of faith, brought on by the howling weather. In March, when the spring flowers begin, with balmy days ahead just over the next hill, a winter surprise attack caught me off my guard.
     The weather reporters tell us we’ll be in deep freeze for a day or two. They’re sorry. We’re all sorry. We had plans that got side-swiped. Just a fender bender in most cases, but a bit of a hassle. We’ll be up and running full throttle again by the day after tomorrow.
     Personally, with no media or technology to guide me but only a gut-level instinct, I never would have forecast this storm. The day before it was 70-plus degrees in Norfolk. I walked on the beach, sat in the sun. I might have predicted rain overnight, but never a blast of winter—snow, ice, wind, and all the rest—starting the very next morning. I needed a weather forecaster to get me ready for that.
     Thank you, weather forecasters.
      But, while information may feed the intellect, it doesn’t substitute for faith. Faith is non-verbal, a feeling, an inner conviction that everything is going to be all right.
     A crisis in faith happens when doubt overcomes that feeling. It may feel like a struggle to rescue faith from the ruins. But fortunately, faith is always renewable, as it runs, you could say, on solar power.
     Besides, like anything else, faith needs a challenge to grow stronger.
     All of which begs the question: Faith in what? Self? Nature? God? Science? The Human Spirit? None or All of the Above? Is faith even a benefit? And what is the relationship between faith and money?
     Well, the questions abound. Digging up bones is the Thinking Dog’s journey. You’re welcome to chew on ‘em if they’re tasty.
     One thing is certain. The storm outside is pretty much over. Soon new weather is bound to blow in. The forecast predicts chilly nights for a foreseeable future. After that, I don’t know. We watch the gray skies with hope.
     The days are a little bit longer.

     I believe Lent is upon me. 


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