Heh. Here I've been having one of my moments of struggle between talking, doing, and talking-as-one-of-many-ways-of-doing, and then I read the missal during Mass today (although my own relationship with religion is... still interesting, when I'm home, I go with my parents to the Catholic parish I grew up in) and James 2:14-18 comes up and whacks me across the face.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Okay, okay, I get the point.
While my mind was on such things, I also looked up the name I chose when I was confirmed, back in 8th grade. It's one that bothered my father to no end; why not pick something nice and feminine, like Mary (always safe) or Elizabeth, even Teresa? Bernadette? I'd read all the saint stories; I'd read pretty much everything in the tiny one-room church library, in fact. And sure, these women were interesting. But their stories didn't speak to me.
I had been thinking of what I would choose for months, as Confirmation class wound along in our basement (my dad was teaching) and I deliberated different saints, different biographies, different... surely there was something more conventionally appropriate, some girl's name that I wouldn't have to fight my parents on. But as a thirteen-year-old who would lie awake in bed each night with the world swarming inside her brain, sneaking into the bathroom at 3 AM to pore hungrily through math textbooks, wiping a peekhole through a foggy window into the same backyard lit by the same suburban light pollution and wondering what was out there and when she'd ever get to go, I thought about a question I'd never really been asked. What shall I give you?
There are so many things that I could ask. And I had slowly picked out what I wanted. Not knowledge; I could read that stuff in books, and dry facts would only get me so far. But to comprehend the facts - to go beyond comprehension, and beyond facts, and towards something more important, something I couldn't clearly articulate, but wanted to understand - ah, that was it, or at least as close as I was going to get in English. Understanding. And not in my head; my brain was a rushing wild morass of thought at times, too cold and rational at others; a powerful engine, but immature and without guidance. Where would that guidance come to, where would it be felt from? Not from my head, for sure. Not from my head, but from my heart.
And somehow, thousands of years ago, a teenage king had stared into the lonely night in Gibeon and answered the same. Give Your servant an understanding heart.
"...but I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" --Kings 3:9
Even now, nearly a decade after I've walked away from church, reading that passage makes me ache the same way it did when I was thirteen. So when I turned fourteen, and was confirmed, and the Bishop came by and asked my name, I told him Solomon. And so that name was sealed with oil on my forehead and a gentle slap. And I was officially an adult in the eyes of my faith, despite my earlier protests that I was not yet ready. It's a long story, but in effect, my first act as a Catholic adult was to declare myself a child and drop into non-practising status to search for what it was I actually believed. (Still working on that, not as actively as I should, really.)
The name reminds me of what I hoped it would remind me of, and the reminder deepens as I grow. It is a counterbalance to my geekiness, my tendencies to seek these bits of shiny information to squirrel away inside my brain, a very possessive and cerebral thing to do. It is an image that I never want to lose; a restless child, late at night, bewildered (even terrified) at the thundering strength of the seeking I continuously felt (and still feel), pouring through me. And the rest of Solomon's life is a reminder to me that one can start out young and hungry for an understanding of the truth, yet aim so passionately for the understanding that, in the end, they miss the truth. The comprehension ought to serve the doing and the being, not the other way around. And I would be wise to remember that, especially if wisdom is what I would ask for.
Ugh; I'm writing in an overly poetic torrent tonight; that's how the words are coming out; I'm not editing them. Aah. That means my brain is caught up too much in itself; I'm just luxuriating in the meta of my thought processes. (At least I'm getting better at recognizing this faster, though.) Mm. Kicking self out to just go do and be for a while. It is a sputtering process.