The Power Of Believing
Santa Claus was one thing. He was human, chubby and groovy in long hair and a beard. As a heavy-set child of the 1960s, I could relate to that. But how do you relate to a rabbit -- especially one with no name, no discernable personality and a propensity for laying multi-colored chicken eggs?
Thankfully, I grew up in a family of believers, so it really didn't matter how I felt about Easter's benevolent bunny. Not only did I learn to believe, but I also learned something about the power of belief -- in myself, in principles and in other people and causes. But I worry a little about children who grow up in this age of disbelief. Experiencing the fun of a harmless fantasy like the Easter Bunny is one thing. But how do they cope with life in a world where belief itself is belittled, where faith is ridiculed and reality extends only as far as one can see hear, smell, taste or touch?
A few years ago national attention was focused on a deep, dark cave in the mountains near where I live. A Scout troop had entered the cave to do a little exploring. Despite every precaution that had been taken to make it a safe and exciting adventure for all, one young man was separated from the troop and lost in the depths of the cave.
For several days rescue crews worked around the clock, searching every twist and turn in the underground cavern. With each passing hour hopes of finding the boy inside the cave dimmed, and new theories were advanced. Perhaps he had simply run away. Or maybe he had stumbled out some other entrance and was now lost in the mountains. Or perhaps he was already... well, nobody wanted to say it. But everybody thought it.
Everybody, that is, except the boy's parents.
"That wasn't an option as far as we were concerned," the boy's mother said. "Eventually we would find him -- safe and alive. We were certain of that."
There was little reason to cling to that belief. Those who were familiar with the cave claimed it had been thoroughly searched -- several times. Common sense dictated that time was running out and that other options needed to be considered -- like when to say "enough."
But like Kris Kringle himself says in A Miracle on 34th Street, "faith is believing in something even when common sense tells you not to." And the boy's parents had faith. They wouldn't give up, and they wouldn't let anyone else give up, either. And sure enough, the boy was found -- hungry, thirsty and frightened, but otherwise healthy.
And how did he manage to survive his ordeal in the cave?
"I prayed a lot," he said, "and I never stopped believing that someone would find me."
Of course, I'm aware that not every crisis ends so happily, no matter how much faith and belief is exercised. But how many tragedies have been averted because believing people refuse to be dissuaded or discouraged by common sense?
Many people view belief, faith and hope as the feeble stepchildren of knowledge. I understand that feeling. Sometimes I lean a little that way myself. But while it's true that the pursuit of knowledge is a value to be cherished, there always comes a point at which knowledge ends. Always.
That can be a scary place for those who have no faith in belief. But for those who have learned to walk in faith and to trust the power of believing, the absence of absolute knowledge isn't any more of a problem than life's other realities. You just move on -- in whatever direction you believe is best.
Your course may be uncertain and your step may be slow and cautious. But hopefully -- or maybe we should say "full of hope" -- you move on.
With or without the Easter Bunny.
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