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image credit : ioneurope.wordpress.com

Which comes first? Must we demonstrate our faith first, before we can enter the grace of life’s flow? Or does life’s flow build up our faith muscle, bit by bit?

I remember a particular bike ride in Rwanda. We were returning from a visit to the home of a dear friend of mine, which was way off any kind of track, let alone a beaten one. There were intricate pathways passing fields of tea, high above a rushing river, with a final rocky climb to the tiny house perched on a steep hill side, sprinkled with the exuberant leafy green of banana trees. Going up was one thing…but the way back was all down hill.

I perched on the seat behind my bicycle taxi driver, naturally balancing my weight with his and leaning into the bends as if I myself were steering. I couldn’t see ahead clearly (he was taller than me, which isn’t hard…) so I just relaxed and took in the view on either side, not thinking for a moment that if I lost my balance I’d throw us both off the side of the track we were hurtling down and onto the rocks that lined the edge of the river below, which was rushing by even faster than us.

At the end of this 30 minute breathtaking, ‘helmet-free, seatbelt-free, health and safety would have a field day’ adventure I was complimented on my ride by my ‘driver’, who it seemed had felt my sense of trust and flow. My friend, a nun, was translating the detail, and showed some admiration and curiosity herself. She then asked something like, ‘So how come you were so relaxed and trusting?’

‘Because I’d been blessed.’ was my answer.

Just before we’d left, her local parish priest had given me a blessing and drawn a cross on my forehead with his thumb. I have no religious affiliation myself, but I appreciate any expression of blessing or prayer, and I liked this idea. Though I trust quite easily, it felt nice to have this extra image of something/someone looking over me/us as we hurtled down the mountain. On hearing my answer, my friend looked at me with a wonderful mixture of confusion, humour and ‘awww, bless’.

I don’t have any definitive answer to the questions I began with of course, but my personal experience is one of a dance; when I put a bit of faith out I get some flow back, and when the flow is there I’m a little more daring and I throw a bit more faith into the mix. It’s a beautiful circle that expands and contracts with my emotions in something much more profound than ‘action = consequence’. I feel seen and heard, like the Universe knows when to test me a little, and knows when to gift me for no apparent reason to draw me back in to the magic. In those moments I feel a presence, look around myself, and seeing nothing I giggle – where are you? Then I touch my hand to my heart and smile.