In the previous post I examined belonging. It’s difficult to feel that we belong when we lack trust. Whether we’ve fallen in with a group of “friends” who are prone to sniping behind each other’s backs, or a religious group whose dogma we just can’t buy into anymore, our inability to trust can keep us from feeling that we belong. But what about the most fundamental sense of belonging that I spoke of in the previous post – our universal belonging – our belonging as witness to the universe from which we arise? In what do we trust when we feel such belonging? I’ll be exploring the nature of such trust over the course of the next few pages.
Trust can be difficult to maintain in a world where little stays the same for long – where family and friends pass away, and relationships come and go – where what we once enjoyed is either taken from us, or else it gradually ceases to be as pleasurable as it used to be. Yes, we are part of this ever-changing world, and often enough we end up changing long before what we used to love has ceased to be, or transitioned into something else. Perhaps we used to love to run mile upon mile upon mile, but now our knees have gotten too bad for anything longer than a run across a busy street. Perhaps we once enjoyed long evenings out on the town with friends, but now all that noise and commotion and frenetic energy just leaves us drained and unfulfilled.
And so it is that some of us learn to trust in our ability to always get what we want. Sure, the world is always changing, and we are always changing. We recognize that reality. But our constant is our ability to always go out and get what we want or need, no matter what the changing circumstances might be. We find solace in our resiliency and our adaptability. Look closely, though. What is the real nature of the currency that you possess? If it’s not money, then perhaps it’s your connections, your looks, or your charm. Perhaps it’s your physical prowess or your intimidating presence, your intelligence or your shrewdness. You might find it difficult to envision this “currency” ever being taken away from you, but the fact of the matter is that change itself has a way of taking from us everything that we hold dear.
So, what can we trust to never, ever change? What in this world is true and constant? Where is our rock amidst so much shifting sand? Of course, religion is that rock for many, to the extent that their trust remains unchanged. But trust or faith in God, or whatever description of metaphysical reality one’s chosen religion might espouse, is difficult to maintain for an entire lifetime. Religion might provide a strong foundation for many a meaningful year, but even the strongest of foundations can be collapsed by the quaking of waning faith. How many times have we heard somebody wonder what kind of God would “stand by” and let such a thing happen whenever a child is brutally slain or taken by disease before her life had really begun? Indeed, belief in a God that will forever protect us and our loved ones on account of our faith and devotion is just one tragedy away from crumbling. But faith can wane even without the occurrence of any overtly tragic event. Simply “living into” a belief system can reveal areas where we have to stretch and strain too much in order to make it fit. Thus, even one’s self-proclaimed “rock” of faith is not immune to the winds of change, because the winds of change include the changing of the hearts and minds of each and every one of us.
How, then, can we ever really trust, and what do we place our trust in when we do? The answer lies in that which we already know – the trust in being itself that every child has. This innate trust can either be nurtured or neglected depending upon the circumstances in which the child is raised; but even if it is roundly trampled, it is never completely destroyed.
We take it for granted that young children should be sheltered from the harsh realities of life. As such, we try to protect them, to the extent that it is prudent, from knowledge of the violence and chaos that is “out there” in the world at large. Over time, though, news of a darker reality inevitably seeps into the sheltered homestead in which the child and her family dwell. Death, disease, catastrophe, and child abduction cannot be kept at bay forever. However, by the time such realities do begin to encroach upon the child’s world, it is at least hoped that she’ll have no reason to doubt such parental assurances as: "nothing bad like that could ever happen to you," or "of course we’ll always be here to take care of you."
The trust of children is such that everything in the world is taken at face value. A child has no need for his parents’ reassurance prior to him being exposed to the darker realities of the world. If he has not yet experienced any tragedy in any way, either first or secondhand, then the thought of it can gain no purchase in his mind. But once tragedy does find its way into his imaginings, once he does become in need of reassurance, he has no reason to doubt his parents’ calming words. How could he possibly doubt them if he’s never been given any reason to doubt their words before? A child’s trust is not based upon belief. A child’s trust is not based upon imaginings and supposition. It is based completely on his experience of being and nothing more.
But how can such a realization about trust even begin to help those of us who are long in years and with a wealth of accumulated experiences that give us no recourse but to doubt? How can we ever learn to trust in any way that even remotely resembles the innocent trust of children? One way is to dispense with belief altogether. Without belief there is no faith that can be shaken. Without belief we can only see things as they are.
Lucky Horse Shoe by Man Vyi via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:
Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank