My Statement of Faith
When one hears the word "faith", Christianity usually comes to mind. Often, when it does, it scares many people away. It is a sad testament to the ill effects fundamentalism has had on Christianity. i have spent my life studying religion, and in particular, Christianity. I have read the Bible in several translations, and studied the culture of the time it was written. I have expanded my studies to ancient religions and the evolution of faith.
I have found that my faith does not fall into a category. I do not believe in an "invisable sky wizard" who bestows blessings on some and punishment on others. Some try to call me agnostic, some a Pagan, and others an abomination. I refer to myself as a Pagan Universalist. I have a belief in a higher power that I feel more fully in nature than I do anywhere else. I see more commonality in faith than I do differences. The higher power is neither male nor female, and in reality is only personified to make talking about the divine easier. I interchange the use of God/Goddess and him/her when speaking of the Divine.
I do not believe one can prove, nor disprove the existence of a divine presence. What we do know is we are all made from the same "stuff" (star stuff as Carl Sagan put it). We are made from the earth and we are very much intertwined. I believe that when I touch a leaf, I have touched my maker. When I hear the breeze through the trees, it is the whispers of God. When I look into the eyes of a deer, I am looking into the eyes of the Divine. It is not that these things are in themselves holy, but they possess what we each possess, a part of the spirit from whence we came. I believe that no matter where we are standing, it is on holy ground. Whether we have a heaven to go to in the afterlife, I will be honest in saying I don't know. But I know that if I allow my body to return naturally to the earth, it will be reborn into something else and the "stuff" that makes up my shell will live again. If I am said to possess a spirit, than I fully believe that all creation possesses the same and if I am to spend eternity in a spiritual form somewhere, I hope it to be with the animals and people I have loved.
Faith does not have to be illogical, nor does it have to chain you to doctrine or dogma. It is not what you believe but what you do. Real faith requires action. It means reaching out to help one another. Freedom and peace is found when this realization is taken to heart and it makes the world a better place. As the Dalai Lama said "My religion is very simple. It is kindness"
I have not let go of the faith of my childhood, however. I still find great comfort in the southern gospel music and in the poetry of the KJV. However, instead of celebrating the faith of someone else, I have made it mine. It is between myself and my Creator. I cannot forget the universal wisdom taught by Jesus and the Buddha and shared by so many other religions. One should love your Deity with so much intensity, it is a natural reaction to treat others as you would wish to be treated. This is a wonderful thread that binds many faiths.
The mantra that I believe in so strongly is said best by the Christian Bible: "Faith, without works is dead". I believe in being the hands and feet of God/dess; the answer to someone's prayer. While I do believe in the kindness of telling another you will pray for them, I find we sometimes use it as an excuse not to actually help them. That is when faith in action is paramount. Stop expecting God to do it all.
When all is said and done, it all comes down to being able to say to yourself and your creator: "It is well with my soul".