To believe or not to believe

The birds must have some reason for singing that I don’t know about, because here it is, dawn again, only you’d never know it from the colors of the sky, which are the same colors as the rain, gray, gray, and gray, and have been for days. They’re out there, though, the birds, chirping away, no doubt shaking themselves off and scattering raindrops after every chirp, but they sound just as happy to be awake as if the treetops were bathed in gold. Me, I peer through the drizzle at the river running down my driveway and the wet jungle of weeds I used to call my lawn, and I ask you, birdies, what? And they sing back, either you know what you’ve got or you don’t.

Hm. You know or you don’t know. Which makes me wonder, then, what’s all this in-between stuff about believing? Maybe believing, believing anything, is like being blindfolded with bananas in your ears.

I remember getting the Tower in a Tarot reading once. Your beliefs will come toppling down, it said. And I thought, oh, I must have the wrong set of beliefs. Gee, here I thought, after all these decades of reading and listening and meditating, I finally had the right beliefs. I guess I was wrong. I guess I need some new ones. Then I thought, well, maybe the ones I have aren’t so much wrong or right, maybe just dumping the old ones out, no matter how right they used to feel, how comforting and safe and old-shoeish, is a good and necessary thing so that you can get a whole new polished set of beliefs that you’ll become obsessed about keeping clean. Actually, I didn’t foresee that I’d become obsessed with keeping them clean, I didn’t have that much foresight at the time. The Tower said it was going to happen, so I believed. I believed I better get myself loose and easy for the change, because it was coming, and if I didn’t like it, the Tower said, if I put up any resistance, the Tower said, I was going to be hurting no one but myself, I was going to suffer some unnecessary pain, and so, not being big on pain, I decided, not only was I going to like it, I was going to jump right into it with major enthusiasm, and show them, those apparitions of finger-pointing pilgrims, those ghosts of pop-quiz teachers, that echo of a father who noticed the one B among all the A’s on the report card and shook his head sadly and said maybe next time I could do better. (I did do better. What’s not to like? I thought, about spending every waking hour studying? I believed that getting another A was going to, you know, make life better.)

So I turned my beliefs upside down and shook them out and hosed them away, dumb, silly old beliefs. And I got myself some brand new beliefs, so shiny I could see my face in them. Du-u-u-hh. The point is, I missed the point. Having a set of beliefs IS like being blindfolded with bananas in your ears. You keep bumping into things, and not being able to get through narrow spaces, not to mention not being able to hear the birdies singing in the rain. The point is, who needs beliefs? Well, some people do, some people don’t, sometimes some people who did, don’t, and who didn’t, do, and me, right now, this morning, I’m waking up listening to the birdies singing in the rain, thinking, they know it’s a new day, rain or shine, and they know they feel like making music at the dawn of a new day, and I’m changing my mind, I’d rather not believe anything, I’d rather just know it or not know it.

Believing is wanting to know. Having a set of beliefs is helpful in counteracting the fears caused by ambiguity, but I don’t need a set of beliefs if I can live with what I know and don’t know. It’s okay for me not to know what I don’t know. Oh, but what I do know, when I really know it, is even better than okay! I was driving to Stonehedge Gardens, which is about an hour from here, noticing that the wild roses have been replaced by honeysuckle and day lilies, everywhere, all over the countryside, when I remembered the title of one of Neale Donald Walsch’s books. I wondered what it would be like to have a friendship with God. No sooner had the words formed themselves in my mind, than I knew. I was suddenly experiencing a friendship with God, or Life, or the Universe, or My own Infinite Light-Being Self. I was instilled with warmth and peace and gently smiling love. Everything I looked at was part of the friendship. Not just the rolling hills and green fields and sweet-smelling flowers, but even the asphalt and the run-down gas stations and the overhead wires, because when you know your friend, you know all the great stuff and all the not-so-great stuff, and you just embrace it all. I had needed to believe that a friendship with God was possible, but then suddenly I knew that it was real. Everything was so much a part of the friendship that I felt like we were doing it all together, the traveling, the noticing, the appreciating. We can grieve together, and we can make it better together. We can mope through the day together, or enjoy one another’s company so much that we ignite a spark of good feeling in someone else. We can criticize each other, and know that love’s behind it, or encourage one another, because hey, God gets discouraged, my Highest Self doesn’t enjoy pain or suffering or killing or abuse, S/He embraces it, out of love, and is just as heartened at the prospect of healing and caring and friendship for all as I am, even while judging nothing and accepting everything.

My thoughts would wander, as they tend to do when I’m driving, into areas of responsibility or concern, but every time I remembered what I finally knew, beyond a doubt, that I have a friendship with All This, I got that warm inner glow again. I’ve got that glowing feeling, mm-mm that growing feeling, I’ve got that knowing feeling, now it’s One, One, One, whoa wo woh. (God doesn’t even mind my singing. Now that’s friendship.)

Then I broke into an even better grasp of the situation. What do I do for and with my closest friends, and know that they will do for and with me? We support one another in our every effort to be happy or productive or generous, or even lazy or moody or silly. I know that with the support of this friendship, I’m not alone in what I’m here to do; I have all the empathy and back-up I could possibly ask for. So, I thought as I drove home, I have to pay my taxes, I’d like to give my daughter some money to help her get started when she finds where her heart leads her, I want to make sure my step-daughter can continue her Waldorf teacher training, and I’d like to ease my partner’s stress from being behind on his bills. And I have this Friend who understands and wants to help. We’re in this together, spreading comfort where we can. This knowing feels so good that I’m smiling and humming all the way home, being moved by the scars on my friend’s face as much as by the blush of summer. This friendship is about trust and respect and compassion and love. So thanks for listening, I tell my Friend.

Within two hours of getting home, thousands of dollars in cash floated down onto my front lawn. The exact amount I needed to take care of the things I’d mentioned. Literally fell onto my lawn, like leaves from a tree. It was tossed gleefully into the air by a woman who’d been getting messages that overlapped my messages. We both got electrified, and we both laughed with joy, because we knew.

So I don’t need to believe any more. I just know. I know why the birdies sing, no matter what. They know the sun is out there, even if it’s raining, and that’s enough, it’s dawn, it’s time for a song. Our Friend is like the sun, always with us. Even if we can’t see that, we can do more than believe it. We can know it.

Traveler On The Path