i grew up in a house where we never asked to believe in god, so i chose not to for more than 20 years. but i did grow up in the woods, attended environmental ed summer camp, and lived outside while hiking for 3 weeks with outward bound at the age of 15. at 20, i started leading wilderness trips for teenagers.
around that time, my heart was broken by the first boy i ever truly loved. i went outside that night and laid on the grass and watched the trees waving against the black starry sky, and i thought of this book i'd picked up on a bookshelf somewhere, about how if you speak loving words (yes, thank you, i love you) in any language to water crystals they end up forming these intricate, symmetrical patterns like snowflakes, but if you speak negative words (no, i hate you, go away) they end up forming these awful incongruous shapes, like cancer.
as i laid there watching the trees with my heart hurting in a way i never knew it could, i thought about plants, and how they grow in perfectly symmetry straight out of the earth with no human intervention whatsoever, how everything in nature exists in perfect, self-sustaining balance with everything else, and what could be at the root of all that except love? where does the wind come from, anyway? you can talk about the collision of hot air and cool air all you want but when you FEEL the wind on your face -- where does that come from?
that was the moment i started to understand what people are talking about when they talk about this thing called god, so i told my dad exactly that, and he looked at me and said: "for 20 years i wondered if i'd made a mistake by not giving you more guidance. but now i see that it was the right thing to do." in truth, this is one of the things i am most grateful for: the chance to arrive organically at my own understanding of what it is that "god" might mean.
for me, having faith brings you full circle: you start out believing only in rational logic, and then as you go on living and observing and making sense of it all, you start to encounter things that exceed the capacity of the human brain to understand, and as you encounter more and more of them, you start to realize the we really don't know anything at all, and then you discover quantum physics and you think: "well, fuck!"
as some totally irrelevant guy once said, "the more i know, the more i am convinced that i know nothing." the rational being therefore comes to believe in all that she cannot know, and gradually the belief becomes stronger and filled with gratitude. to choose trust like this is faith. it is wonder; it is awe. it is the scariest, most exciting, and most fulfilling thing there is.
the next time you are in nature, look around with new eyes. look deeply at a single patch of tree bark, and see the insects working. marvel at all you don't know. ask yourself: if nobody really knows, why couldn't it be this?
no one has decided the fate of your life yet. you decide it every moment. every moment is an opportunity for you to put faith in yourself, in the divine light we all have within us. there's so much we cannot know about the world, but what we can try to know is ourselves, and this is where faith must begin.
the next time you are in nature, look around. notice that nothing is apologizing for being the way it is, imperfect; nothing is trying to be something it's not. the sheer existence is shameless. simply by being, each thing fills its unique space in the ecosystem -- and everything else depends on it for this in some small, interconnected way.
ask yourself: what is my natural state? when i'm not posing or posturing or presenting or pretending -- what does that look like? lean into this, and trust that there is space for you in this world, waiting for you to grow and fill it.
sending you love and ever-increasing clarity,