It has been sunny, dry and hot for a while now, and when it suddenly rained yesterday it probably signaled the beginning of the long rainy season that starts in March and ends in May. That means umbrellas and haste in the city streets and traffic jams and impatience on the city roads. And when I got to the office a while ago, Mary, the cleaning lady was painstakingly mopping up a pool of rain water that had gathered on the doorsteps, and I figured that with the rainy season she might be doing this each day for several weeks to come. As I said hello to her, she answered in her usual animated way, and when I casually said to her “Mary, today lunch is on you?” she said “OK!” as if she has been waiting for me to ask. And on second thought I said, “Mary, you seem very generous today. Maybe I should have asked for a car,” probably more to myself than to her. But then she said doubtfully, “You shouldn’t ask me for something I cannot give.” It looked like she had taken my statement very seriously and I felt obliged to explain what I had in mind by telling her a story.
It was the story of a man who wanted to cut down a big tree. And while he was looking up at the tree scratching his head and wondering what to do, an ill dressed man happened to pass by. When he saw how perturbed he was, the poorly dressed man asked him, “How can I help?” To that the man said, “Perhaps you could give me a razor blade with which to cut down the tree!” And promptly the poor looking man gave him the razor blade and went on his way. What the man didn’t know was that the poor looking man was an Angel who would have given to any of his requests. But since he looked poor, the man asked only for what he thought he could afford. And in the process he missed the opportunity to get an axe with which to cut down the tree.
When I finished the story, looking expectantly to see a bulb lighting up above Mary’s head, she unexpectedly said, “I do not believe in Angels”. I was curious, and asked her why she didn’t believe in Angels. She said, “There are so many negative things that are going on right now, that it is impossible to believe in Angels.” And we both laughed as she said, “In any case, if I were an Angel, it would be very awkward to move around with a mop in my hands and a pair of wings folded behind my back!”
As I got into the office and left Mary to continue with her chores, I wondered about what she had said. And I thought about the rainy season, when dark clouds hang low on the sky for so many days that one might forget that the sun exists. But even as the day is gloomy and rain falls day after day, we all know that the sun rises in the East each morning and sets in the West each evening. And without evidence, the only thing that we have to go by is the belief that the sun still exists, and that when the rainy season is over, it will shine once again.
Whether what we believe in is as global as the elements of our environment, or is as personal as one’s own potential, one thing is for sure; at some point, all evidence points to the absence of that which we think is. And at that point, it is easy to doubt. One might say, “There is not a single good man (or woman) left” or “I can never achieve this” or “This problem will never pass” or such statements that go contrary to what we want to believe in. But at such a time, perhaps it is when we need to call upon our Faith. And as you know, Faith is belief that is not based on proof.