Words Glorious Words – How do we go beyond definitions to make our own meaning?

Glorious – that’s the word I wrote at the end of a two-hour workshop titled, ‘Slow Down, Recharge, Shine Brighter’. The workshop leaders, Sara and Sarah, had provided a beautiful setting and at the beginning of the session handed us each a red rose and a little envelope. For the first half of the workshop we did restorative yoga followed by meditation, and over the second half we were offered exercises to help us access our feelings, good and bad, in relation to what we hoped to achieve in the next month or two.

One word to describe how we’re feeling isn’t easy if we leave out happy and sad.

The word  ‘glorious’ was the biggest, most spacious word I could come up with to describe my all encompassing positive feelings during that workshop. I’d written it in big letters on one side of the little card tucked in my envelope. On the other side we were instructed to write what we were grateful for in the future. Sarah said, “Ask yourself how you aim to be in the world and express gratitude for that as if it’s already happened.”

Words have power.

The words and lines I wrote came out of my imagination and onto this card, but they’re already embedded in my present moment experience. Glorious is what it is to be a positive force for change as I do what is most important and send query letters to agents to get my healing book into the world.  A potent reminder, words have power.

The word I really need to get to is ‘faith.’

That’s the bit that’s really needed now. Faith is something I’ve always struggled with and need more of these days, while sending query after query to unknown gatekeepers. Where is all that ‘trust in the unknown’ I talk about all the time? Where is my faith in my vision? How do I make faith more part of my thinking? What is faith anyways?

“Daily practice,” said my friend last night, when I brought the subject up over dinner. ”It’s a muscle that we can build over time.” She put her hand at her heart and said, “It starts here.”

Faith is a muscle.

Maybe it was because she said it with so much confidence, but I was persuaded my friend was on to something. The more I think about it the more convinced I am that her notion of ‘faith as a muscle’ is way better than mine, that faith will come over time, eventually if we’re lucky, or that we experience when we’re ready, able, and worthy. With this new understanding faith is more possible, like a bicep that gets stronger the more you work it.

Practice daily.

I’ve resisted the urge to google ‘faith’, or even to go into my Webster’s Dictionary (the one with paper pages from the 1900’s when language experts made decisions about the meaning of words.) I don’t want to mess up this self-directed discovery of what faith means with arbitrary or even etymological definitions. I did let myself look up the French translation though. En français, faith translates into ‘confience’ which reminds me of the word confidence. Faith as confidence is coming close to equal trust in the unknown and leading me to wonder if trust is a muscle too.

Ask for understanding and wait for the answer.

I glanced up from my writing just now, and my eyes went to the hill across the road from my window. A man stood on the highest point, his face towards the sun and his arms spread wide open. The background music in my room was Bon Iver singing, “Bring me that higher love.”  In that moment I knew without doubt that faith is exactly this – a space, filled with astonishment, freedom, and fulfillment all in one. And when I looked back down at my little card I realized that the word ‘glorious’ fills in all the gaps, and reminded of a saying that goes something like, ‘Ask for understanding and wait for the answer.’

If it’s missing, did you have faith once upon a time?

Which reminds me of the word ‘synchronicity’ and the first time I heard Neil Young sing ‘Heart of Gold.’  I was at a party, sitting on the concrete floor of a friend’s basement rec room, feeling like my life would never have purpose, and someone put on the record. The line, “I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold” pulled me in. I dragged my bum across the floor and pressed my ear against the gold brown upholstery material on the stereo speaker. I’d be a miner for a heart of gold, I swore to my soul. I would, ‘keep me searching.’ I promised my young self. Because I knew it then, I knew what faith was once upon a time.

Adele is singing ‘To Make You Feel My Love.’  in the background. All of these moments are shifting closer together, old and present, gathering in a new found understanding. I’ll hold them in my heart, like my friend recommended last night, or at least let them start there and see how it goes.

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