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Faith by Czeslaw Milosz

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I remember this conversation I had with someone I know (I hesitate to call her friend, although I would imagine she calls me that), maybe around two years ago. We were talking about God. Or rather, I was talking about God, and my disbelief with religion, and all the other icky feelings and things about faith. I didn’t open this conversation just so we could cross over the small talk. I was writing a position paper for my English class, and why I chose the subject of agnosticism is just foolish on my part – I was being frisky with the subject as of late, because of that damn Theology class, and I needed to say something and have no one to say it to, and I saw the paper as an opportunity for verbal diarrhea. It was win-win for me, because I can unload all of my thoughts and not have to do research at all, with it being in my head constantly. Also, there’s no one to witness this indulgence, except for my absent-minded professor who spills coffee on her blouse every morning – a pretty safe bet, if you ask me. Anyway — there I was in the cafeteria, talking to myself, writing, arguing, editing, arguing like a banshee, and all this time my classmate, who reveres religion, was watching me and listening to me. Suffice to say, it didn’t end well for me: I got an invite to attend a Bible reading class and a soft, pitying look that was supposed to rip me into shreds.

This is way too much context for a poem.

Czeslaw Milosz

The word Faith means when someone sees
A dew-drop or a floating leaf, and knows
That they are, because they have to be.
And even if you dreamed, or closed your eyes
And wished, the world would still be what it was,
And the leaf would still be carried down the river.

It means that when someone’s foot is hurt
By a sharp rock, he also knows that rocks
Are here so they can hurt our feet.
Look, see the long shadow cast by the trees;
And flowers and people throw shadows on the earth:
What has no shadow has no strength to live.

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