One of the ways that I’m observing Lent is with an “Ash Wednesday to Easter in a Photo a Day” calendar. The idea is to visualize a word-a-day: one takes time to reflect on a word for the day and then take a photo that captures your thoughts about it. A pretty cool idea, I think, and one that provides a helpful daily practice for Lent as each of the words provides an opportunity for wondering about how we know ourselves, God, each other and the world around us. Each day has a different focus, but all connect back to who and how we are. And you have to visualize it.
It might seem odd to say it, but I was a little surprised to find “faith” on the calendar. Although, it’s the word for the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, so I can definitely make a connection there. I was surprised because it stood alone without its companions in what, for me, is a trinity of living love into the world. Faith can be hard to see without the verbs that make it action. I might have trouble with a photo that day.
For me, faith is belief. Not the blind acceptance of whatever you may be told, but the thoughtful, discerning belief that asks questions and pursues the knowing of what is true and divine. I have faith in God, but also in people and in creation because people are created in the image of God and from the earth, and creation is made from the divine spark of love that, well, creates life. That spark is of God. We are all of God.
But faith needs to be put into action and we need a couple of things to get that started.
We need trust. Trusting that God is with us, in us and around us, means we can step forward without fear. Believe me, I know how hard that is. So does Jesus. Remember the words most frequently said by Jesus: don’t be afraid. Not that you shouldn’t be scared, but, acknowledging that, know that God is with you, whatever happens. Wherever you go, however you go, God is with you. Physically, spiritually, emotionally - you don’t go alone.
And think for a minute about how you know God. I say “God,” but God is love. God is the energy of life that creates and inspires. God is the oneness that we all come from and return to. God is the good that is in us from the beginning. You can trust in that.
Faith needs trust, but trust needs something, too: imagination. You are loved by God and God goes with you, wherever you go, believe that and trust in that. Now imagine what you might do with that. Imagine what you can do with the love that is in you. In Jesus’ life, he shows us how he lives that out in ways that we can too. But Jesus doesn’t expect you to be perfectly Jesus. God doesn’t either. Because you can only be perfectly who you are. And that’s the point. Jesus is the example that calls us to imagine what we can do with that love, that creativity, that skill for living that’s in each us. Doing good Jesusing isn’t about being the same as Jesus, it’s about imagining how we can live all the love, grace and compassion that is truly our divine and earthly nature into the world.
There are so many Jesuses, in the bible and in history, that lived lives of faith, trust and imagination. We all share these three gifts, but imagination is what brings our own uniqueness into the practice, the action of faith and trust.