By Heather Holland
Or right-click here to download the audio file: Articles of New Faith
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,
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,
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,
I believe that righteousness
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
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,
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.