Disbelieve a Hundred Times an Hour

Emily Dickinson wrote a letter late in life to an acquaintance saying: “On the subjects of which we know nothing, or should I say Beings…we both believe, and disbelieve a hundred times an Hour, which keeps Believing nimble.”

Most of us have been conditioned and taught that our beliefs must be solid, intact, immovable, immutable, and irrefutable – or they aren’t worth believing in.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Consider nimble belief:

(via the near-ecstatic-and-deeply-spiritual experience of finding synonyms in the thesaurus)

Active belief
Adept belief
Adroit belief
Agile belief
Alert belief
Bright belief
Brisk belief
Clever belief (Nice, huh?)
Deft belief
Handy belief
Light belief
Lissome belief
Lithe belief
Lively belief
Proficient belief
Prompt belief
Quick belief
Quick-witted belief (Don’t you love this?!?)
Ready belief
Skillful belief
Sprightly belief
Spry belief
Swift belief
Vigilant belief
Wide-Awake belief (I’m especially partial to this one. Beautiful.)

And unnimble belief:

(via the equally-ecstatic-and-deeply-spiritual experience of finding antonyms in the thesaurus)

Awkward belief
Clumsy belief
Lumbering belief
Slow belief
Undexterous belief
Unhandy belief

Nothing more need be said, really.

Except perhaps this: To have nimble belief means that you hold things loosely. You question. You doubt. You wonder. You probe. You swirl in despair at times, and other times, in wild abandon. You live in places of ambivalence. And you do not demand answers. For you know that to do such inhibits your belief, not strengthens it.

It is easy to get things upside-down and backwards; to find yourself wrapped around an axle (or axiom) from which you cannot get loose. And sometimes, what you need to do is turn a thing on its head to see it in a completely different way, to gain perspective, to clear your brain of thick and foggy thinking that is oft’ handed-down, too quickly assumed, and rarely questioned.

What if you could have belief that didn’t rest in absolutes, apologetics, or affirmations; rather, in the unknown, the mystery, the vastness and unfathomableness of life? In an inexplicable and incomprehensible and infinite God? What if, indeed?

This is nimble belief.

Disbelieve (and believe) a hundred times an hour. With grace. With permission. With abandon. Wildly. Uncarefully. Freely. Over and over again.

May it be so.

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Callahan McDonough May 9, 2012 at

    wonderfully, simply love this one Ronna. Whimsy/Depth/Smiles.


    Ronna Detrick May 9, 2012 at

    Smiles in return, to be sure, Callahan.


    Joanna Paterson May 9, 2012 at

    I love this. Reminds me of something Hafiz might have said :-)
    Joanna Paterson recently posted..Blowing in the Wind


    Ronna Detrick May 9, 2012 at

    I’m in such good company! Emily Dickinson & Hafiz?!? Nice! Thank you, Joanna.


    Rita May 9, 2012 at

    Wise words for all kinds of belief, not just religious/spiritual. (I’m thinking particularly of my field, which is education.)
    Rita recently posted..Lighting update:It’s a groovy kind of love


    Ronna Detrick May 10, 2012 at

    Love this, Rita. And yes…of course it’s applicable! This is how we know it’s “true” – when it works in so many other ways! As always, thanks for being here!


    Diane Easley May 9, 2012 at

    I have been a proponent of wide awake belief for many years and find this little practice to be inspiring. As the Queen says “I daresay you haven’t had much practice…why sometimes I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast”. Thanks for the lovely reminder Ronna.
    Diane Easley recently posted..Writing your Truth


    Ronna Detrick May 10, 2012 at

    I have a magnet on my fridge with that exact quote from the Queen, Diane. Yes. Yes. Yes. xoxo


    Rev. Loril Hawk August 10, 2012 at

    Ronna, wow, you are doing some amazing work. Love it. Soul refreshment stuff.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes by Frederick Buechner:
    “If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Amen and Amen!


    Ronna Detrick August 10, 2012 at

    Wow! Loril Hawk. A name from my long-ago past! SO lovely to see your name here and to see what you’re up to! Thanks for being here…reconnecting…commenting. I’m grateful. And LOVE the Buechner quote! xoxo


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