Faith Is the Bird That Feels the Light

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

Rabindranath Tagore

I feel the light, too. And I am sometimes confused by it.

The light I feel is good. It is goodness itself. I want to be immersed in this light, drenched, consumed. I want to open my chest and let it enter me, to unfold myself in its brilliance and fly or sink to wherever it is going.

I trust the light without knowing why. Without good reason, without proof, even though it makes no logical sense, even though I can’t be certain. But my trust is stronger than knowledge or reason or proof or logic or, most brittle of them all, certainty.

Living in the modern world, I have been taught to believe in the power of knowledge, reason, and logic, and to strive to make things certain. I acknowledge the value of these human capacities and I express abundant gratitude for the many benefits they bring to modern life:  electricity, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, chemotherapy, communication satellites, bridges that don’t fall down. And because my trust in the light is more intuitive than logical, more felt sense than geometric proof, I am sometimes confused that my trust is so strong.

My mind tries to reconcile reason and intuition, the unknowable and the certain, but that may not be a fruitful approach. These are separate human capacities that work in different realms, and I can enjoy the benefits of each without forcing them to speak each other’s language.

As for certainty, I admit there are things I want to be certain – for electricity to come when I flip the switch, for antibiotics to be tested by the FDA, for engineers to build strong bridges. I applaud logic and reason in their rightful realm. But in other realms, perhaps the more important, certainty has no footing because the preciousness of life cannot be guaranteed. Who I fall in love with, the state of my health a year from now, the fragile peace of nations, the colors of tomorrow’s sunset, none of these can be tracked with the precision of certainty. To expect certainty in this realm is to miss the point of living, which is to grow through my experience of all, certain and uncertain alike.

Tagore names the bird “faith,” but it is not the simple faith of believing in things that have no basis in fact or experience. The faith of the bird is more complex, subtle, and deep-rooted.

I do not trust the light because I fantasize it will love me into bliss or dissolve the pain of my problems. I trust it because it imbues me with the highest qualities to which I aspire; because it anchors me in the true self that is my higher self and not the petty shadow I become when I am fearful; because it makes me a stronger vehicle for giving and receiving love; because my best decisions come about when I am grounded in that light.

The light I feel is a loving, conscious presence I can surrender to, something so essential it reunites me with the Source of life on a cosmic scale. It correlates too closely with the things that matter most to be dismissed for lack of certain proof or because I do not comprehend the mechanics of how it works.

I trust because, if I am honest to the bone, I know I am a better person in a better world when I am following the light. Even when it’s dark (especially when it’s dark), and my faith that dawn will come is all I have to go on. That is a type of understanding that can be known even if it can’t be proved, which like Tagore, I am happy to call faith.

Photo by Lance Reis on Unsplash

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