The new head of the company told me on Thursday, in a calm and steady tone, that we have reached the furthest point we can in our working relationship. We need to accept that we’ve done everything we are capable of doing.
In short – you’re fired.
Ah…THAT’S why he closed the door when I came in here, I thought.
I told him that I understood, and I did. I haven’t been a big money maker for the company. And while the business always considered itself to be more family-run than big-box, money is money. You make investments where they bring returns. Cold comfort to someone who just got laid off, but I can see the logic.
I told him that I didn’t harbor any bad feelings about this. It made sense. On the bright side, I’m leaving the relationship much better off than I was before. I told him all of this, in essence reassuring myself to him. He listened, and he smiled. He was polite and patient with my process. After all, I’d never be coming to him again to ask for support or money; the least he could do was afford me a few minutes of my keep-your-chin-up-edness.
We exchanged a few pleasantries, made note of the details that would require tending to, then bro-hugged and said goodbye. We parted ways.
Just like that, a 4 year partnership is unceremoniously de-partnered.
Every step I took between the office and the car felt heavy and deliberate. Slower than normal. I narrated the next several minutes in my head:
Step, step, step, breathe… This is the world now…. step, step… Everything has changed… breathe…. Everything is different. And you’re ok.
Before This River Becomes An Ocean…
The next morning, during my devotional, I turned over an oracle card that represented Brighid’s Flame. The card had the word “Faith” up at the top, and the message was to trust that things are going to work out.
Faith, huh? So… I’ve moved away from Christianity, embraced a Druidic tradition, accepted “Pagan” as a word to describe my current spiritual and cultural expression, and the message from my patron deity is to “Have faith”? Did a Celtic Goddess just go all televangelist on me?
Or, in keeping with my previous posts written during Pagan Values Blogging Month, am I faced with the challenge of exploring a value that is more than just a pagan value?
Time To Pick My Heart Up Off The Floor…
I got back to my hotel and sought out comfort where I could find it. I made phone calls to all the people who didn’t just break up with me, and I reassured myself to each of them.
This is a great opportunity, I told everyone, for me to have a fresh start. A blank slate.
I wasn’t in denial about it. I didn’t pretend that I was unshaken, or that I wasn’t all lumpy throated and salty eyed. I was just deciding to take the good and take the bad, Facts Of Life style, and to own up to a more holistic view of the situation.
The truth is, this is a great opportunity. I’m poised to begin new partnerships with people who really want to work with me. I have support coming from many different areas of my personal life and my career.
But am I willing to believe that truth? Is that believing an act of faith?
I Reconsider My Foolish Notion
Pagans are so centered around practice. We define ourselves by what we do, not by what we believe (generally speaking). But faith is all about belief, isn’t it? How do we reframe faith as something that you do instead of something that you have?
Could we imagine ourselves crafting faith? Could the act of engaging with a belief — as I’m currently doing when I frame a job loss as an opportunity gain — be understood as a faith-working? A faith-casting? A magical act?
When you do simple magic, like sending a prayer to the Gods on a burning piece of paper, or crafting a sigil to represent a change you wish to see in the world, there’s a moment where you are required to charge that magical working with your energy, and then release it. Once released, you’re supposed to forget about it. The act of forgetting is an important component of the working. It’s the whole, quit looking and just let the water boil thing.
Perhaps that’s what “having faith”, or a phrase that I’m becoming more fond of, “doing faith,” might mean. I decide what this situation is, looking at all sides of it, and then I stop thinking about it; I forget that I made the decision, and I allow everything to unfold around me. I do faith by acting on my chosen belief that a firing, in this situation, is better described as a timely transition between business partners, and that plays out in my conversations with loved ones, with colleagues, and even with my readership.
This post is me faith-ing.
‘Cause I Gotta Have Faith…Oh, I Gotta Have…Faith
There’s no simple conclusion — either to this post, or to my situation. And that’s the point. Its all a process. I get up in the morning, and the world is new again. A blank slate. A new post, still unwritten. The opportunity for a fresh take on my life, using my words and the active engagement with my beliefs as a willful act of creation, is laid out before me.
All I have to do is trust…believe…
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I’ve also spent a fair amount of time gnawing at this concept of “faith.” I long ago got fed up with the idea (as articulated by many Christians) that “faith” is the act of forcing oneself to express belief in the unbelievable. I think it runs much deeper than that.
Ultimately, I think the foundation of faith is my answer to the question of whether I should get out of bed in the morning. Or, for those in more dire situations, whether they should try to leave their hiding place and make their way in the world.
I’m not talking about the “Is it time to get out of bed?” question. I’m talking about the “Is it worth getting out of bed at all?” question.
The former is subject to rational analysis, even if I’m still half-asleep. Mmm, the bed is warm and the air is chilly this morning. No work today, I can sleep in. But I’ve got to pee and my left foot has fallen asleep. Uh-oh. The dog heard me move, and he’s going to pester me until I get up. I’m hungry, anyway. Okay, let’s get up.
There’s no faith involved here. It’s just a decision.
The latter, however, is not subject to rational analysis, and frankly, the answer is not at all obvious. I’ve had periods of my life where I’ve truly lost faith, and the only reason I got out of bed in the morning was blind physical habit. I didn’t particularly want to continue. There seemed damned little point to it. Faith returned over time, so I’m grateful for habit.
Another way of phrasing the question of faith is this: “Is the universe I live in a good place, or a bad place?” This is not subject to a rational answer. It is a matter of faith. But the answer is important, because if we see the universe as a good place, we live. If we don’t, we begin the process of dying.
I don’t think faith is such a hard thing, most of the time — not for those of us living in a first-world country where we stay warm and well-fed. Most of us have faith, even when we feel stressed and lost, like after getting dumped by a lover or a business partner or an employer, as in your case. You certainly have to grieve the losses, and that is painful and always much slower than you’d like. But your writing reveals that you already see sunlight peeking over the horizon. You’re uncertain of the future, but you do have faith.
I find it helpful when I’m down or grieving or just plain curmudgeonly to reaffirm my connection with faith, as you’ve done with your “faith-ing.” Touching base with nature is enormously helpful. It’s hard to remain curmudgeonly after an afternoon sitting under a tree on a sunny day.
Thanks for the reply, Themon. Interestingly enough, I did a little tree-sitting today. You’re right — it does good for the disposition.
Again, you’ve given me something deeper to think about. How is our ease with faith connected to our general well being? What’s the difference between first-world faith and third-world faith? Does it behave the same? These are interesting thoughts that bear reflection.
I’d say, “Bummer,” or “Hang in there,” or some other trite saying, but it seems unnecessary and more than a little fruitless.
I think you know that I’ve struggled with the faith question myself, and I like this notion of active faith. It does take a form of magic to suspend doubts, to keep believing in spite of trouble. I’m not wild about quoting Aleister Crowley, but he called magic “the Art and Science of causing changes to occur in conformity with Will.”
What are we doing, then, but magic when we make changes in our lives? Is there another word for it, when we reshape the entire direction of our lives? It’s personal magic, sure, but it’s also a cooperative magic with “the Universe” or however you want to term it.
Making faith about action, too, makes it an actual force in our lives. I’ve known people who have “had faith,” but done little to act on it. Their faith is entirely passive, and they refuse to take responsibility for the problems and victories in their lives. Their religious life is a one-way street, and doesn’t give enough credit to either party involved. Active faith gives us the chance to make magic happen.
So, hang in there (haha), and if needed, take the excellent advice you gave me earlier this week. 🙂
Thanks, Kristin. I’m glad to be working through this idea with you, and the Uncle Al definition did run through my mind when I was writing this post. Somehow, and perhaps because of my life-long exploration of the idea of “grace”, I’m more inclined to accept a definition of magic that accounts for not just my Will but also the Will of something other than myself — a deity, the Universe, another person. I’m not in it alone, after all. I’m living in relationship to everything around me, and doesn’t every living thing possess its own Will?
Another comment sends my mind a’spinnin’…
I’ll take a look at the e-mail I sent you and refresh my memory of my excellent advice. 🙂 Thanks.
Holding you in my thoughts and prayers Teo.
Thank you, Pax.
[…] in the Grove writes about faith. An interesting point is raised: “Pagans are so centered around practice. We define ourselves by […]
Hi there, I just found your blog through the Pagan Values Event.
To me, faith is about living my beliefs. Doing faith as you put it in everyday aspects of my life. I call it living mindfully (although I may have taken that from another source). Faith is about putting the sacred back in everyday life and then letting it unfold naturally. This is not a passive act but an intentioned one – and a tricky one sometimes.
I am really enjoying looking through your archive and I look forward to following your journey here.
Thank you, Kitty. I appreciate the comment, and I’m glad that you found some words that resonate with you. I love that phrase – living mindfully – and I’d never thought of it as being connected to faith. But, I think it actually describes quite well what I was getting at in this post. The doing of faith is very much like being mindful of what matters most deeply to us, and living that out.
I hope to see more of you around here! Bright blessings to you!
Brighid! You hussy! You want Teo all to yourself!!! (Though, she’s a goddess, so I guess that’s her prerogative.)
Sorry for the bumpy transitions, I’ll be sending light and love your way, bud.
I like the idea of faith as “not trying to watch water boil” … it’s very similar to Themon’s thoughts about the Universe being good: ie, things are going to work out for the best in the Universe without me always having to tend the kettle. I appreciate your insights, even in this difficult time.
Faith it is Teo and it is amazing how you take unfortunate events like this and move forward. I admire your beliefs and faith.