There are certain movies I watch over and over because I want to live in the world of the film. One such movie is a romantic comedy called “You’ve Got Mail.” It’s the story of an Internet romance between two business adversaries. I re-watch it because it’s a Hollywood fantasy of life in NYC. The main character, played by the actress Meg Ryan, has a scene in which she breaks up with her boyfriend, and in their conversation he asks if she has someone else. She replies, “No, but there is the dream of someone else.”
In my life, I frequently connect with people who have no faith. I am mystified by such individuals and wonder how they hold themselves together in the uphill climb of life. How does one face a diagnosis? Or injustice? What flickers through your mind as you are being wheeled into surgery? Where does such a person go when terrorists fly airplanes into the side of buildings? For whom do you reach when your spouse rejects you?
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” This quote in Sunday’s second reading is the author’s beginning of instructing the Hebrews in the extraordinary faith had by Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son and leave his home. Abraham had a dream of a wise and loving God in whom anything is possible, and his faith made sense of all that was mysterious and unknowable.
Imagine if the world was a dream had by God. A God who teaches us fearlessness, goodness and equality. Faith is the knowledge of this powerful dream. And religion offers us the tools to decode the dream. When we have faith, we are connected to a tradition that believes somehow everything will work out and offers us prayers, gestures and community who provide comfort and balance when we are terrified or at peace. We often become preoccupied by the details of our lives and the cycles of happiness and disappointment, but when we are weary, when we are shattered, and even when we are triumphant—there is the dream. And the dream is a portal that enables us to glimpse what is unimaginable, and what is unimaginable is the splendor of God.