Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Losing Hope, Finding Faith

Well, clearly I kept mulling the piece I wrote yesterday re: faith. I awoke this morning with dreams about faith and hope.

Hope says: It (my health, the economy, the world, a relationship. . . .) will get better.

Belief says: It will get better by prayer, action, discipline, surrender, exercise, meditation, taking care, paying attention, getting information, resting, working, trusting God/the Great Mystery, being more patient, more compassionate . . .

Faith says: Life is good- worth living fully with open eyes, mind and heart- even if things don't get "better," even if what I believe will create desired change does not appear to do so.

In the last couple of years, as I sat still, I came to the place of no-hope, of not knowing what to hope for, and of not finding energy available for hoping. I also found many of my beliefs shattered as I did all the things I believe "work" only to find myself increasingly ill. But the great gift of no hope and shattered beliefs is the discovery of faith. I have to admit, there have been moments of desolation when finding that faith remained truly surprised me. And in discovering faith there is great joy and a sense of deep peace.

And all of this reminds me of one of my favourite pieces of poety:

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness dancing.

T.S. Eliot from East Coker (No. 2 of 'Four Quartets')


  1. Dear Oriah, Thank you for your newsleter, and your weekly blogspot. I will eagerly read each one.
    I am presenting this piece I wrote this Sunday at church. It fits in with your writings of hope, faith, and love. I hope it makes you smile.

    Namaste, Terry Choyce

    Bedford United Church Community Moment
    Muriel Duckworth Nov. 8, 2009 Terry Choyce

    The Toaist philosopher Mantak Chia paraphrased an ancient Chinese proverb when he said "If you want peace in the world, first have peace with yourself. Then your family, your friends, your country, and the world will have peace." At this Remembrance Day service I thought it was important to remember a local woman who lived peace, Muriel Duckworth.

    I was one of the hundreds of people who called Muriel friend. Last weekend Muriel would have turned 101 years old, if she hadn't passed on in August. For the final year or so of her life she lived here in Bedford, in the Berkley. For many years before that she lived in Halifax. I began visiting her about 7 years ago, when she was winding down her active participation with Voice of Women and the Raging Grannies. She was becoming frail and her energy just wasn't what it was. But her spirit was strong and her love for the world was enormous.

    Muriel is famous world wide as a promoter of peace. She has won many awards and honours. She was grateful for these but they weren't what really mattered to her. It was people she cared about. She passionately wanted people to be safe, to be happy, and to feel loved. And for those of us who were close to her, she did her best to make us feel that way. Muriel loved us. She delighted in our triumphs, was consoling with our sorrows, riled in sympathy with any injustice we may have experienced. Muriel is one of the few people I've met who loved unconditionally and joyously. She was eager to learn, feisty about making the world a safer, more peaceful place, and she was in love with life.

    On top of her tv she had a wooden plaque that said "HOPE." My friend Cathy Kinsman and I went to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama with Muriel last January. We talked a lot about hope that day. We all felt that there was now a better chance for the nations of the world to talk to each other about resolving their differences, rather than fighting about them. We had hope that the United States had made a huge shift in its acceptance of people who are different, and whose ways were nontraditional. Imagine a black man with the name of Barack Hussein Obama in the White House? I was raised an American, and did not think I'd ever see such a thing. Yes, that day there was good reason to be hopeful, and to celebrate the changes which made Obama's presidency possible. And we were hopeful that this man would lead the world into peace.

    I used to talk to Muriel about the work I did in ministry. Over and over she'd say to me "God is love and love is God, and that's all you need to know." She was a Quaker, and spoke to God in silence. But she experienced God every day through the people she touched and the work she did. I could feel a sacred presence whenever I was with Muriel, because she radiated love. Theological differences were irrelevant to her. Living with love was all that truly mattered.

    Muriel was a successful advocate for peace because she had peace within herself. She lived a wonderful, long life and loved many people, in particular her family. She was bursting with pride at what kind and brilliant people her children were(all in their 70's). She got so excited at the accomplishments and joys of her grandchildren. And she clapped with glee when a friend talked about a success or celebration they had. Muriel made everyone feel special. She made everyone feel that they were an important part of her life, and were important to this community and to the world. Muriel lived peace, she lived love, and she smiled with God.

  2. I am so happy to see you have a blog!!
    I am often "relieved" when I read your writings, most recently here and the Newsletter.
    Relieved to know that in my experiecne of low energy and chonic illness I am not alone. I am reminded to "give myself permission" to be where I am and to be ok with that. I look forward to being able to read your words that resinate so much with my spirit...........Emerald

  3. Oriah - I have been a fan of yours for a number of years and have just started a blog on which I wanted to share your "The Invitation" with my friends. When I was searching the web for your poem, I came across your blog... so am delighted! I will follow, always knowing I will feel 'soothed' by your words.

  4. very happy to see your new website and look forward to your weekly blogs. Take good care of yourself. much love, Lynne, Devon, Enland

  5. Thank you Oriah for your newsletter and I will read your blog too in the future.

    Looks good your grey hair... I have the same... we are the wise elders (lol).

    Have a nice day sister of the universe.

    Love, Vonnie

  6. Oriah,
    I have longed to meet you here as a blogging Sistah! I accepted the "Call" in my life after reading "The Invitation:, years ago. To follow your work and life has been an inspiration to my own writing and blogging. Thank-you for being You!

  7. Oriah,

    May the inspiration, comfort and healign your words lend us all return to you 10 fold. Look up. The birds are singing.

    ~ LaRonda

  8. Oriah... delighted that you were born..... very happy that you are alive... keep writing.

    Annien (South Africa/Ireland)

  9. Oriah,
    Your blog is wonderful and your writing will continue to be an inspiration to me daily. I too often quote your words in my presentations at church and my friends there are becoming familiar with your name! Thanks for your lifelong friendship!

  10. Your words and those of T.S. Eliot echo those of Adyashanti in his book "Emptiness Dancing" which I am currently reading. I have sunk into a very deep nothingness over the past six months. I thought there was something wrong with me. But there isn't. There is just a constant letting go, deeper and deeper, into the stillness that is.

    And, by the way, the new photo of you is fabulous! :)

  11. Thank you for the beautiful post. Since my daughter died (4/1/07), knowing what to hope for has been elusive. I continue working toward building a better world in many ways, but have felt like a piece was missing because of the hope element. My daughter had me get a tattoo of the Chinese character for hope before she died so that I would not lose hope. It isn't gone, but it lacks direction. Normally that distresses me. After reading your post and the poem you shared, I'm feeling a little more settled with it. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for continuing to inspire me Oriah. Wishing you much peace and many blessings....Jan

  13. Reading about your chronic pain that began in 1984 almost brought me to tears. I was not aware but have been a fan of yours for close to thirteen years now. I know nothing of chronic pain, only sporadic, yet I suffered with severe suicidal depression for seven years and I understand that pain can manifest in so many forms. I understand that our cages take many shapes. I never dreamed that the woman who wrote the Invitation could, I do not know how to say it......when I found your poem, I was sick very sick. I was on line looking for help someone that would understand there were chat lines, there were people out there but depression can take on so many forms....and mine was a ...... well I found your poem through a mood disorder site called winds of change. I will never forget that day, I was sitting at my mothers, the site is long gone but the name has stuck with me and so have you.

    The years have been long since then and some of the days have seemed even longer, yet.....I just want to say thank you. When I read your poem I was very very asleep, to the point that the world had its way with me, I many days counted the hours until I could go to bed, just so I could say that I survived another day without trying to take my own life. I felt weak. When I found your poem (I just said to a friend moments ago) I realized there would come a day that I would again see the sun rise for what it was. I have. Thank you. There was just a little thing in me that kept me going and I will probably never truly know it, but thank you.

    The next time I feel frusturated because I am moving back to the shelter, and I can not find a job, so I will not be able to save money to return to University in the spring I will remember that I have energy that I do not hurt. I will try to I promise. When my heart hurts.... I will remember. I will try. I am sorry and so very very greatful.

    Thank you for your words, your spirit and your soul. I had no idea.

    You have my grandmothers Scotish Eyes. I know someone understands the passion, the fever and the love that flows through my soul because those words were written.

    I am healthy today, life bogs me down, I will do my best to honor your journey and your message by remembering that we all have our battles, and I am not alone.

    Olivia Betts-Langlois A fan, then, now, and tomorrow.

  14. Oriah, thank you for continuing to share your words and thoughts with the world. You never know what or who you will influence when you take the risk and put yourself out there in a sincere fashion. To put it in recipe terms: All the ingredients that go into a fulfilling life, the big amounts and the small, all are essential to the end result. Sometimes the very smallest ingredients can have a most significant impact on the flavor of the outcome. Your words, though perhaps a small part of the recipe for who I am, remain significant to the outcome, and I am forever grateful to have found you. Always, MARK

  15. Hey everyone, thank you for all the great comments, sharing and support. I'm still working out my new relationship to technology on this blog my facebook page (really not sure how to use that- but I am learning!) Oriah

  16. Hi,
    You can have any post from a blog emailed to you at This will give Oriah time to catch up with her technology and install a widget here at her blog, and while she does this, you won't miss out on experiencing her :)

  17. the invitation is so beautifull poem thank you

  18. This entry brought strongly to mind a passage from "The Skull Mantra" (written by Eliot Pattison) in which the main character is chided thus by the Rinpoche of the Tibetan labour camp they are being held in:

    "[This hope] still consumes you, my friend", he says. "It makes you wrongly believe that you can strike against the world. It distracts you from what is more important. It makes you believe that the world is populated by victims and villains and heroes. But that is not our world. We are not victims. Rather we are honoured to have had our faith tested. If we are to be consumed by the [soldiers] then we are to be consumed. Neither hope nor fear will change that."

    Someone else has made other comment about this passage here:

    When I read this passage in the novel, I wept and wept. I, too, walk a journey ever accompanied by "Chronic Fatigue" (ME/CFIDS). And I realised, finally, that my "hope" for my physical health to change was preventing me from truly occupying the Present Moment.

    Every Moment is So Precious.

    I wept, and wept, and (without abandoning hope altogether) I finally was able to let go of my "death-grip" attachment to it.

    I surrendered fully to Being Here Now. And I found myself in a place of Beauty and Acceptance and Life. I was like a sea bird who, ceasing its endless flapping to stay aloft, finally folds its wings ... to plummet into the depths. (And finds its fish!) [smile]

  19. You are a beautiful, beautiful woman.
    I have consistently found myself in faith, and it's delightful every time I remember it.

  20. Ever since I read this piece a few days ago, I keep revisiting it. I love when an idea reinvests new meaning daily. That's what this post has done for me, and today it reminded me of a quotation I'd read recently: "i beg you.. to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. don't search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, the live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer"
    -rainer maria rilke