Faith is this knowing in the center of you that will not leave. It has been to you a light that guides, light that illumines the worst of yourself, weight that steadies, weight that holds you where you do not want to be. Perhaps, when it first stirred inside your chest, you tried to build a home for it in your head. You read the books, learned the phrases, spouted your word-filled prayers. You learned how to speak of it to others. You studied clever ways to prove it to them. You resented them when they rejected your clever words. It became, for a time, your self-worth, your assurance that you inhabit a special place in the universe.
But your faith would not live in the house of your intellect, only your pride, and your self-love, and your anger, all of which you clothed in righteousness and labeled God. Then you stumbled, or the world destroyed some part of you, or took someone you loved, or maybe all of these things, and then the house you constructed for your faith held only the echoes of your catechisms, the hollow encouragements of your well-meaning, faith-minded friends, the obligatory notion that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us more holy.
Only it didn’t make you more holy. It left these holes in you, this world, and so perhaps you cast what passed for faith out of your mind, and set about the business of self-medication or self-destruction, which in the end come always to the same place. You shuttered the house built for faith in your mind, and perhaps you told everyone or perhaps you told no one, but you next tried to live a life without faith, ran from faith until you were empty, empty and broken down and not knowing any more what you had ever known or why you ever thought you knew it.
And then you find that faith will no more leave you than it will take wings at your bidding. You find that it will never live in your head, that it will never be fine thread to weave with words, that it will never adorn you as something crafted to make you more complete.
You find, instead, that it persists in the deepest parts of you, in the places where you most desperately need and fear it. You find that you have run all this way and never departed from it, because it has never departed from you, because it was never any more your choice than is the beating of your heart.
And so you come, at the end of your running and rending of flesh, to faith, which long ago came to you. It is weight and it is light and it is knowing. It is belief in the midst of unbelief, quiet truth uttered after lies. It is waiting, it is silent prayer. It is whispered thanks for the way your child sighs in his sleep, and for wind that soughs the trees. It is knowing you are unforgotten. It is what bears you homeward.