Faith Seeking Understanding
It was pure happenstance that our 4th episode was the current piece on the 4th of July and was exactly 40 minutes and 40 seconds long. It was also not by design, but perhaps kismet--that the 4th episode aired the same week that my brother celebrated his wedding. This episode, "Dishing It Out", is all about partnership. It is about love and the trials and triumphs of cohabitation.
My brother celebrated his nuptials this past week, but he and his wife were actually married at the courthouse last summer. They'd intended to have an actual wedding ceremony last summer, but they had to call it off indefinitely due to the pandemic. So they went ahead and got hitched...without me. You see, they had asked me to marry them. And I was so honored and excited about this! And subsequently so disappointed not to get to do it. So I put everything I had into the toast they asked me to give in lieu of the ceremony. A friend of my brother told me afterward that my toast was among the top 3 wedding speeches he'd heard. But it was not short. Fortunately my brother and his wife still love me..! I will include some (not all!) of my thoughts here:
During our preparation for this ceremony, I got a glimpse of a couple in the vulnerable, beautiful state of being so in love with one another that they are willing to step off the edge of this proverbial cliff hand in hand.
As an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, I would like to quote Saint Anselm of Canterbury these three words--"faith seeking understanding". This is the classical definition of theology. But the phrase also makes sense when applied to science. The scientist starts with faith, an intuition or a hunch. They begin seeking, by following up on their hunch via trial and error. Methodical observation, study and contemplation leads both scientist and theologian to a greater depth of understanding.
It is the same in love. You start with a gut feeling. you can't know what will happen, who you will become, what to expect 20 years down the line. But you step into faith, and every day you have an opportunity to seek understanding.
A few years ago for an art project I was making, I asked Adam (my brother) to write me a little blurb about love. He, in his words, "fretted, then got pissed, then fretted some more." THEN he wrote this incredibly insightful piece and here's a line from it:
"Our parents lived and raised us in that faith that acts on hope and possibility and the doubt that opens the imagination." Maybe he read St. Anselm before I did.
We tend to think of doubt as the opposite of faith. But Adam and St. Anselm are saying that doubt is not the opposite of faith, certainty is the opposite of faith. Doubt is part of faith, there is ignorance built into it. Something like the human condition. If we are to make our way, however awkwardly, even at times painfully toward a greater depth of understanding, we must start with UNcertainty. Out of faith, hope and possibility arise, and the doubt that opens the imagination.
We can't know what's over the cliff--this is the ripe, electrifying moment in which our lovers are poised. But we know that if we stay in faith, we keep listening and learning, out of ignorance, understanding grows.
Faith seeking understanding makes life worth living.