Welcome to the extra-heavy Disability Blog Hop topic, Faith & Disability. When I first thought about what I would write on this subject, the word religion came immediately to mind. But somehow, that just didn't seem right. Faith may lie intrinsically within religion, but religion may not always lie within faith. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, faith is "confidence or trust in a person or entity," and may include trust or belief without proof. Also from The Great Wiki, "The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a social aspect." TGW goes on to say, " Classical Judaism does not require one to explicitly identify God (a key tenet of faith in Christianity), but rather to honour the idea of God." I had wondered where my belief that God is more of an idea than an identifiable being had come from, and, with my Jewish upbringing, I now think I know.
All that being said, the groundwork having been laid, my own personal beliefs do not center around any organized religion. In a world where my circle of friends grew out of common interest, out of similar educational and social circles throughout my life, religion and faith never entered into our conversations, were never part of who we were to each other. Some subconscious part of our selves betrayed our lack of faith, or of religion, and surely that's what attracted us to each other in the first place, creating life-long friendships. Now, in my grown-up, mommy life, in this life where I have been joined with so many new and different cross sections of society and human nature by both motherhood and by disability, I struggle with this vast division placed between myself and my beliefs and what I have discovered are the beliefs of far more humans in the world around me than I'd ever, in a million years, expected to find.
The divide is great.
My beliefs, my possible lack of faith in a deity or other omnicient being, is great.
I know this sets me apart from the masses. But truly, I think my resolve holds fast despite the beliefs of my otherwise-peers.
God does not give special children to special people.
Praying will not change the outcome of my IEP meeting, nor will it cure the sick, heal the wounded.
But meditation? Introspection? Will those help calm my mindset, settle my nerves, allow me to think more clearly and make better decisions? Of that, I am certain. Perhaps that's what praying really is, regardless of what others may think. I think we need to rely on ourselves to show us the way, not place blind faith in a power that was created and built on fables and fear.
My father once asked me, sitting together outside schul on the High Holiday of Yom Kippur back when I was in college, what my thoughts were on religion. I paused, thought carefully for a moment, then responded simply, "Religion is a crutch for people who need it." My father nodded his head, let it go.
Crutch may have been an unfair word to have used. I do not judge. I do not condemn another's beliefs, decry what gives another strength. I have always had a great appreciation for the beliefs of others. Even with this new world of disabililty into which I've been thrown, this world that seems to be dominated by Christians and Christian belief, I believe what I believe, and that is in the intrinsic goodness of people. If there is a god or otherwise all-knowing deity out there, one that will judge and will give and will take away, it will know a person's heart, regardless of performed ritual, or of organized tenet.
We do not, and we will not, suffer for our beliefs, or lack thereof. Knowing onesself, knowing where to seek comfort, whether in Biblical verse or in modern poetry, performing a ritual, or marveling in the beauty of a painted masterpiece, is what works to bring peace, or to make sense of the world around us.
Disability does not need to be explained by faith, does not need to be fixed or otherwise lessened by faith. Regardless of where you live, what you believe, needing no higher explanation, nothing to justify it in the cosmic sense, disability just. is.