Articles of New Faith

By Heather Holland



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A novice—raging away

from the charred and blistered

home of my former faith—

I am called

by the air in my lungs

and the dirt beneath my feet

to stand and to breathe, to begin

this messy reckoning.



I believe in Being,

the eternal light and dark,

male and female, father, mother,

One Word of universe

that sits on my shoulder as sun,

tangles in my hair as wind.



I believe in Eve,

the snake,

and the fruit,

the wide-mouthed bite

of knowledge, the juice

of its bittersweet slide

down the neck,

between the breasts.

I trust the power

of the choice to leave

the leafy green and flower

of a garden, to grow

and multiply between

the rocks and brambles,

roots tangling

through brackish soil.



I believe sometimes

it is our sins

that save us.



I believe that the first principles

and covenants of my life are:

first, compassion, the sacrament

of holding the shaking hands

and hearts of those who suffer;

second, the courage of integrity—

keeping a steady heading,

mending each breach

as my ship sails dark waters;

third, gratitude, kissing the cheeks

of the ones I love and singing praise

for pink streaks of sky, shouting

hallelujah each month we have enough

to pay rent, buy food, and see a movie;

fourth, interconnectedness, a faith

that finds divinity in every far-flung star,

in every cell of my own body,

that looks at division and dogma

and graffitis over all of it with fury,

with love.



I believe that righteousness

and faith

are inside jobs,

that we are all prophetic people

spinning visions, all fumbling

co-creators of heaven,

all accidental authors

of such beautiful pain.



I believe in the church

of poets, healers, teachers,

prophets, charlatans, and so forth,

in Leonard Cohen and Don Williams,

Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks,

the poets of the eight-track tapes

in my dad’s blue Chevy truck,

in the woman who healed me

when she whispered no matter

what church you belong to,

you always belong with me.



I believe in the gift of giving voice,

of listening, analysis, discernment,

of shining light into the darkness,

believing, doubting, making new,

the building of bridges, and so forth.



I believe in the scripture of loss.

I believe in sorrow’s hollowing,

the way it makes room for joy.



I believe in revelation, hope—the upturned tips

of a red-tailed hawk’s wings

as it wheels above cliffs and lakes,

in the call of Oliver’s wild geese,

the yellow crown of Dickinson’s bobolink

as he burbles his sharp song

through blossomed orchards,

in the black-capped chickadee

that sang outside my window

three springs in a row,

its two-note drop of a song

reminding me—

keep on, keep on, keep on.



I believe in the Zion of the Colorado Plateau,

in the glide of my hand along the chain

that makes safe the narrow path to Angel’s Landing

that rises high, makes clear the view of green valley

cut by a river between great cliffs of white

temple cap and red Navajo sandstone.

I believe in the gathering of those

who walk trails and love the earth.



I claim the privilege of worshipping,

believing, loving all I see as God, Divine.

I trust the dictates of my conscience

which have called me not to sin nor doubt

nor laziness, but call me daily to do more,

to believe more, to fight for faith in something

grander, kinder, stronger, gentler,

to imagine more than I’d once dared.



I believe in being subject

to truth, goodness, leadership,

equality, and compassion—

wherever they are found—

in obeying, honoring, sustaining,

questioning, protesting,

and changing the law.



I believe in being honest, true,

chaste, benevolent, virtuous,

and in doing all the good I can

for all the people I can.

I believe and what I believe is expanding;

I hope and hope is a battle chant;

I endure and I’m done with surprise

in the face of disappointment;

I fight; I stumble; I sing.

I seek sunset and blue bonnets,

cinders and stone—all things lovely,

or of good report, or praiseworthy—

with my own, unfiltered eyes. I seek

and keep seeking.