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  • Writer's pictureDavid Horst

Keeping safe, keeping faith


I can think of no other time in recent history when keeping ourselves and others safe is so vital. Thankfully, the practices are simple: Regularly washing or sanitizing hands, maintaining social distance from one another, and wearing a protective face covering.

Keeping faith is just as essential. The spiritual practices that sustain our faith are simple, too: Being prayerful in our thoughts, compassionate in our words, and merciful in our actions.

Yet, the coronavirus pandemic challenges the beliefs that inform our faith and, more than this, our easy and comfortable understanding of God.

For myself, I never believed in a personal God or a God that intervenes in human history. The God of my understanding is bigger and wider than we humans imagine, more mystery than certainty, neither here nor there but everywhere. This is the God of my ease and comfort.

Even with this open-hearted, wonder-filled, life-affirming faith I hold at times I come face to face with doubts and despair. I fear that my faith is dissolving into fatalism. I find myself in moments feeling emotionally and spiritually defeated and resigned to whatever the future may hold. I think to myself, “Well, I’ll just live until I die” — a soul-crushing way to live or die.

So in times of doubt and despair, I recall Paul’s guidance in his Letter to the Hebrews in the Christian testament — “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11.1) — and I’m reminded again of the powerful feeling of faith, intangible but insistent, within me and around me.

With Paul’s words I return again to a wide sense of hope, even when the outcome is unknowable, and a deep trust in things beyond my earthly senses.

Let us keep safe and keep faith at once: As we cleanse our hands we cleanse our minds, as we social distance we invite God’s spirit to fill the space, as we cover our faces we open our hearts to all the things hoped for and may yet someday see.


Photo: Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Conn.

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2 Comments


Brian Santerre
Jul 14, 2020

To David Horst, Just read this message from you. It got me thinking. As far as the pandemic, I look at the essential practices as a matter of intelligence and respect. Nothing spiritual about it. If you understand basic science, put the mask on. If you respect others ( their Health ), put the DAM mask on. KISS method.

What caught me by surprise was " our easy and comfortable understanding of God." I do not have this. I'm always questioning , does God exist, where is he/she, no gender.Or is it the CONCEPT of a GOD. That has been in our psychic DNA since the beginning? When you mentioned," I never believed in a personal God or a God…

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yak500
Jul 13, 2020

We are kindred spirits, as we share the same reverence, for both such a depth of mystery that we sense in existence itself, and also, a proper respect for doubt. I thought so, all along, and there is nothing I cherish more than unadulterated honesty. And its good that we are so compelled to be true to ourselves, for both of us.

To me, the question is not whether or not there is a God, but how humans can possibly relate to such a reality, if there is. I happen to think, and feel that existence is of divine origin, and more importantly I feel that it is so. So no matter what happens to the fate of human beings…

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