Faith

  1. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Faith is not believing in something, it is the unrelenting willingness to believe in anything. She wrote those words in a plain, line-less notebook in an effort to embrace the unknown. After two weeks of meditation— consisting of first feeling connected to her surroundings, starting from the ground and radiating outward, to “erasing” the body with her mind— she began to reconsider her beliefs. Or rather, her lack of belief in a divine creator, spiritual being, or force. Faith was not a common vocabulary in her life. In its place stood words like discipline, control, strength. She used phrases like “It will work out eventually,” halfheartedly, as a temporary bandage for a friend in an undesired situation. Meanwhile, she herself had no real faith. Words like Soulmate, God’s will, destiny, meant nothing to her. “How do you learn morals and values,” a Catholic friend once asked casually over dinner. As if morality was rooted in religion. As if religious faith was an indication of one’s character. As if her lack of faith made her lacking. It felt like a stab not just to herself, but to a certain kind of upbringing. True, she never believed in Santa Claus. The tooth fairy had always been her father, leaving one dollar bills under her pillow in the middle of the night. And how she longed for the Polar Express to be real. Her pragmatic parents placed no value on childhood imagination. But she never wanted to believe in a God. It felt too confining. Only years later, would she realize that rejecting the idea was in itself narrow-minded. And therefore came that night of pen and paper, to immortalize the idea of an unrelenting willingness to believe.

 

  1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

He held her little fingers with a gentle yet strong grip. Ice cream! Ice cream, she would point to a vendor on the sidewalk. Okay sweetie, which flavor? He could never say no. Every day, they walked together after school ended: her eating sticky sweet ice cream, thoughts only on the chocolate chunks that were quickly melting, and him trying to co-raise a child in New York City. Her father was always there— cooking breakfast in the morning, and attending appointments, meetings, school events. He was an informal coach in tennis, clarinet, swimming, ice-skating. She learned to bike as he slowly let go of the handle when she was not looking. No, don’t let go, she would scream, terrified of the narrow crooked sidewalks.

Ten years later, as she learned to drive, he was more scared.

Just trust me Dad. Finally, he places the key in her hands.

Be careful.

Okay I know. Don’t worry, you can go.

 

I don’t believe in romantic love, she declared cynically at the age of 14. What do you mean, you can’t not believe in it, her best friend shakes her head.

Well how do you know it exists, she pushes back, knowing that neither of them had loved anyone that way before.

Don’t your parents love each other?

I don’t think so. She paused, realizing the weight of that statement.

What? Are you sure?

 

 

Maybe it sinks into the bones like an elixir. Or it is like falling — the pit of your stomach suddenly floating above you. Or when the tilt of his head and timbre of his laugh become ingrained in your memories.

How did you know, Mom?

I just did. 

 


This was originally written for a “telescoping” piece prompted “Faith” for one of my college’s literary newspapers. The idea was to go from 300, 150, 75, to 37.5 words. I think telescope pieces really challenges the writer to hone their art. You need creativity to elaborate on a vague one-worded prompt. And you need exact language to limit yourself to a word count, whilst trying to get your point across.

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