More importantly, what have they got that I ain’t got? Answer: Courage, or specifically, the courage of one’s convictions. Now, I like to think that I hold my beliefs pretty strongly, but this whole failed Rapture thing got me thinking. There are people, actual people, who gave up their jobs, sold their belongings, and went around the country trying to convince the rest of us that the end of the world was nigh. Sure, it sounds ridiculous now, and particularly in retrospect because, obviously, we’re all still here. But there were those who believed. Can I imagine myself ever giving up everything in my life for my beliefs? I’m not sure. I don’t know that I have that kind of courage. I’ve never been tested.

A friend of mine and I were once discussing a book that took place during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey Island. The residents were forbidden, under threat of imprisonment or death, to celebrate their faith. My friend assured me that no death threat would keep her from attending religious services; in fact, she would open her home to others to make sure Mass was still celebrated covertly. I didn’t know how to respond to this.  I would never give up my faith, but to risk death to attend Mass? I don’t know. There exists the possibility that I would be too frightened. I wouldn’t want to be. I can even delude myself into thinking I would certainly be stronger than that. But maybe I wouldn’t. I can’t say with certainty.

Maybe I’m like the Cowardly Lion of Oz fame, and my courage is there, just buried under a ton of self-doubt. Or maybe I would fail the test of faith. What keeps haunting me is this: People who many considered ill-advised or just plain crazy may have demonstrated more faith than I ever will. Sure, they were wrong about the Rapture, but I can’t help respecting them anyway.

Advertisements