Faith is love and hope.
Yes, faith has ingredients – look, and you will see them.
I see them because I didn’t have them both for the longest time: the time I was dying of faithlessness. I see them because this is how it came to me: in parts, and assembled into a whole. Because my lonely, tortured love for this world writhed in agony under the crushing weight of ubiquitous suffering, and I thought that all I could ever do would plunge into the bottomless well of its endlessness, and I found no reason and no purpose and no justification for any of it, and I could not understand how it could be this way, and I refused to believe that Anyone Good would plan or allow it this way, and I cared too much for our living and screaming universe to believe in a God who created it and then abandoned it and didn’t watch it suffer – or in a God who watched and did nothing. I had a problem of evil.
Look, and you will see: faith has ingredients. I had all the love in the world and no hope. And love without hope is despair.
We see around us others, whose hope is grand and sure, spread about them and loud, and they tell us all how it is and how it’s going to be – exactly how. They are convinced and full of hope, but I’m pointing at the ones who lack love. Hope without love is arrogant and narrow, cruel and shallow. It deteriorates into ritualistic exclusivism, celebrating the triumph of hope for the elect few over the rest of the unloved world, left behind in its anguish, its misery, and its uncertainty. Hope without love is cold-blooded conceit.
Look at us, carrying around the ingredients of faith — the shards of cure for all that is wrong — and not being able to heal ourselves. We all look to our greatest heroes, our icons and beloved images of the ultimate Good – atheists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and all, all the others. The ones we cherish are our beloved heroes because they had love enough to embrace us all, the unknown and the imperfect, and hope enough to lead the world of people toward the cure. They believed. They knew. They were faith itself.
Look at us. Our world lies dying like a merchant bleeding to death in a roadside ditch, and we can barely put up a patch here and there on its wounds. We perpetuate evil if we haven’t love enough for all; we allow evil if we haven’t hope enough to heal it.
My Beloved came among us a long time ago to teach us that. And he said, “The Law is Love.” And he said, “The Kingdom of God will come.” And he said, “The Kingdom of God is now.”
I couldn’t hear him for my own cries, dying of faithlessness, for Love is too heavy a burden without Hope. He waited patiently for me to take a breath, and then he made me understand. Why. And what for. The reason and the purpose. The mind-boggling onion. The art that is the arm. The lotus flower. He gave me hope and took away my fear. And then I had faith. And with faith comes strength, with faith comes joy, with faith comes the realization of the infinite life, of which we all are part.
Yes, faith has ingredients. He and You. Love and hope. Gift and acceptance. Look, and you will see.