Monday, November 28, 2011
On finding temporary housing-- and faith
But I didn't want to be homeless. And with four days left until closing with no place to live we were beginning to quite seriously panic. We wanted to rent where we might want to purchase, a place that was walkable and community-friendly, but there were no rentals to be found, the few we did wanted multiple year leases and no leeway for breaking a lease early. We drove up and down streets, culled Craigslist, and asked everyone we knew [and many we didn't] to no avail. We hit up the apartment complexes and the corporate feel left us cold as did the add on fees for clickers, stickers, and flickers that left us nearly dizzy as we tallied up how much they would actually cost us. And the termination fees-- harsh.
Dejected. In tears. With just days left to go before closing we headed to our son's favorite park after a day of fruitless searching just as the sun began to set. Unable to find parking in the usual spot we parked on a different street. Through choked back frustration I said to K, I feel like there's a perfect spot for us but we can't see it. K nodded, "we need serendipity." I nodded feeling silly and foolish for hopes such as these.
And then it happened. As we went to our car, K paused. A sign. For rent. Quickly I called the number. Aisha?! The person responded incredulously on the other line. A classmate from law school. The flat was immediately available, affordable, steps from everything including my son's favorite park-- and because of the connection with my law school classmate, the landlord agreed to allow us to leave early if we gave her sufficient notice. We signed on the dotted line.
Serendipity yes. But is it more? This is the thought that's been nagging me for some time.
When things go right in my life I'm inclined to thank a Higher being for watching out for me. The house selling, finding a condo, it's Him. It's always been that way. I can look back at the trajectory of my life and I can't see anything good that happened and not see the immense fortitude that, I believe, is not pure happenstance. When things went bad I trusted that same higher power and believed in a purpose, if anything, to make me stronger.
And then I was hit with some missile-like painful moments that spun me into a tailspin and made me question everything-- people handing me prayers to recite and intonations that it was God's will only made things worse. It's been years but I still finding myself crawling out of the hole, trying to grasp back onto the closeness I once felt to my Creator, and to the ability to trust that the universe is unfolding as it should.
The problem is, when I tailspun, my bubble popped. I looked at children suffering, hard-working people homeless, good women in abusive marriages. . . the more globally I looked, the more I had a hard time making sense of it all. Tragedy abounds with such abundance that I don't know how to say, oh thank God I found an apartment while someone is saying goodbye to a mother they knew all of four years.
And yet-- I've found that some of the people who have seen some of the worst things in life are also some of the most spiritual people I've ever encountered. While I cannot make sense of the unfairness that life has given them in debilitating health, or tragic life circumstances the fact is, they are at peace. It emanates from their very core. They, despite everything life has hurled at them, believe in a higher power-- they see blessings in what I see as nothing but bleak depression.
And I realized, I only live in my own body and only know my own circumstances completely. Who am I to say who has been wronged or who has been done right or the blessings they have faced? I'm beginning to understand, that while its natural to wonder why, I don't know anyone else's life circumstances but my own. I cannot question anyone else's understanding or experience or how they made their peace because peeking in through the window I am given, I cannot know the full story. The only story I know, is my own.
Religion has a funny way of giving everyone an opinion on how its supposed to be. Dogma litters every faith as people tell you what it is to be loved by the Supreme Being and try to collect blessings for entrance to paradise like second graders collect stickers for the Friday treasure chest. For so long I let other people's interpretation of my faith and their judgments on how I practiced it distance me from the very thing that centered me all my life.
But now I've realized-- I cannot live my life according to the way others interpret my faith. I cannot wonder why why I have something fall into place for me when it does not fall into place for others. Some of these 'others' abandon a belief in a higher being, some cling tighter than ever to the concept. Why? How can I possibly know. I now realize I cannot stand on a prayer rug filled with anxiety of the state of my toenails or the style of my recitation. I have only my life, and my perspective, and my unique relationship with my Maker. It's a personal one, and when I cup my hands in supplications-- its only One who hears.
I am thankful I finally understand this. I am thankful that I see His mercy on a condo in a walkable city, two butterflies playing amidst a row of sunflowers, and that despite my ever imperfect flaw-filled self, a self that is surely judged by many as not faithful enough, not practicing enough, that its not them who have the final say. I know my faith will ebb and flow, because even Angels ask, I'm just thankful for today, for taking ownership back on my faith and what it means to me.
Curious for your perspectives on faith, religion, and spirituality? How do you reconcile your difficult moments be it with faith, or without? Do you believe their is a purpose to it all?