Running on Faith

"It is enough that there is a world, after all."

"It is enough that there is a world, after all."

I don’t know how we started. Running in the dark always requires a sort of faith, of course. There is the matter of allowing your foot to fall where you are not at all sure the ground will meet it evenly. The straining eyes cannot be sure that they will perceive an oncoming runner or walker or faceless shape before the body does. Maybe for these reasons, or maybe because we saw the moon hanging fat in the sky, we began to discuss the birth of the world. I said bang. Amoebas and atoms and apes. I couldn’t see her face, but I could hear her sharp intake of breath.

“How can you believe that?” she cried, her voice rising over my labored breathing. And I, shocked by the passion of my normally distant and detached beautiful friend, was not sure that I knew, but to keep the life in our conversation, I returned the question to her.

“How can you believe in God?” I asked. And she was quiet but breathing hard.

We contemplated together the miracles of the world. The moon, for starters. The dinosaurs. Our own existence.

I was surprised at my own insistence that it might not have been God that made it all happen, because, in my heart of hearts, I hoped that it was. My friend wasn’t sure how to live in a world without God.

“What about the Bible?” she asked.

What about Greek mythology, I argued. What about other religions. The Bible? A beautiful story, I concluded. A beautiful story that people made up to make the world less scary, less confusing.

I wondered what God was thinking of me now. I could feel the devil urging me on. I wasn’t sure why I was arguing except to fuel the run with my friend’s energy. To fuel our friendship with a point of contention. Something to make us beholden to one another: doubt. I wasn’t at all sure what I believed or why.

“Where is God now?” I asked and immediately I regretted the question. I remembered the moon.

God’s presence has never been something I’ve doubted. Whether I have believed in a bearded man or a benevolent spirit, I have seen God all throughout my life. Once, I really saw him in a painting in a museum in Spain. The painting was larger than any I had ever seen. God was sitting in a cloud. He looked a little like Santa, but he didn’t wear red. He had enormous toes and held a long stick; his other hand hovered, suspended, over a blue green ball, as if with one movement of his holy fingers, as if in merely a moment of his own invention, time, he could and would make the world. The earth upon which later my beautiful friend and I would run, questioning his very existence.

Where is God? That one question, I was suddenly sure, marked my greatest sin

That one question, and my beautiful friend knew I had defeated myself. We ran silently, agreeing to let the mysteries of the world lie. It is enough that there is the world, after all.

It was enough that we continued to move through it, in the darkness, one foot faithfully after the other.

Rebecca Beyer is a freelance writer and a graduate student at New York University.