Why is faith such an elusive concept to grasp? Ask anyone and they will talk about trusting in things and believing in things and, while I agree, while I have a faith upon which I have built my life, defining what it means feels like cupping water in my hands. It lingers there, cool and sweet, but I cannot hold it for long. It is not concrete, but fluid. It lives and moves and has its being in me. But that's all I really know in the midst of this moment.
One thing I do know, however, is the story of Peter Pan. It is an old favorite in all its many forms and, when someone says faith, I complete the sentence:…trust, and pixie dust! That’s how you fly. You can lift into the air, explore the stars (head toward the second one to the right and straight on 'til morning), swirl and twirl above all life's hardness and the inevitability of growing up if you just have faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.
If only this were true. If only we could be weightless through belief. Sinner saved by grace though I am, sometimes my shoes are still leaden and my heart is still clasped in irons and the daily act of contending with gravity continues to be just that, daily. I wish I could fly; I think we all have wished it a time or two since we first visited Never Never Land. Yet our feet are firmly on the ground, faithful or no.
But then I think of Tinkerbell, a small and feisty ball of light that guides our ever-young hero on and on through the velvet black of shadows. It’s true that Peter does not always realize how much he needs her as he flits in and out of adventure and mischief, but she is there, the third sister to faith and trust. She's elusive and she's mysterious and she is hard to tame, but she's there.
In the thick of Peter's story, Tinkerbell’s light dims. Children everywhere have to clap their hands and lift the refrain, "I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!" I know they probably grew up to doubt, to forget, but I like this scene: faith brings life; faith brings back the light.
So now, in the dark inhale of waiting before the quiet exhale of the manger, I am choosing the kind of faith where I clap my hands with abandon. "I do believe in the Lord's goodness! I do believe in His transformation! I do believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has called me and redeemed me and loves us all! I do! I do!"
I have faith that any dimming light within me will glow anew at this choice. That choice, that leap, is all it really takes to fly.
Cross-posted from "Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today"