By Stacey Parshall Jensen
In August I was walking into my mother’s house thinking of the Native pipe ceremony we would be having that afternoon. I generally go into these ceremonies preparing myself by contemplating what prayers I’ll place in the pipe, what my intentions are, and how to make myself open to what the Great Spirit will bring me. That’s what I was thinking when I heard a voice in my head say “Now’s the time to have some faith.”
The voice, His voice was deep. Not threatening. Not even forceful. He stated to me “Now’s the time to have some faith” because He knows I don’t have much.
As a kid I learned that if someone had the power to hurt me they probably would. And I’ve struggled for years thinking I deserved it. But as I heal and honor the value of myself, I struggle yet today that those who can hurt–will. And I see proof of that. With acts of violence and terrorism. With attacks and deaths on people with less power. With laws designed to hold someone or many someone’s, down. I see and know that life is painful and I still feel most of the time my job is to be on guard. To walk swiftly but with caution. Hone my peripheral so no one can’t sneak up on me. Figure out the plan and know my exits. And yes, I’m exhausted.
My life IS filled with good people now. Nobody I know wants to deliberately hurt me. I accept that. I know that. And I’m grateful. And lucky. Blessed.
But life. That force beyond us meager humans, us wee creatures is not an idea or some construct, it’s a living breathing entity beyond any control. Sometimes, freewill, making decisions, being proactive, creating and manifesting a vision, can make things happen. We can do all that but yet at the very same time, Life will just be what it is. And that is what I’m suppose to have faith in?
My mind goes a bit wild. I actually get sick to my stomach with fear and weak with confusion about not just what faith means and if I want some, but how do I do I get it? How do I do it? You do faith, right? Right?
I fully understand what fear is. And how sometimes it crawls up from some shitty hole and curls up on the couch next to me when all I want to do is watch Gilmore Girls and yet, it breathes hot sticky whispers on my neck and waits for me to cry. It likes it when I cry. And really digs it when I run.
So is faith the weapon? The one that will help me slay fear. When it tells me that my business will fail or that I’m not a good enough writer or filmmaker and nothing will come of my career and I was too old to start it, if I have faith, it will quiet it? When it tells me that my mother will get sicker, if I have faith, it will shut the fuck up? Can faith do that?
Or is faith the opposite of fear? And if I have one I can’t have the other? How does it work?
I’ve been asking these questions to God. To the Great Spirit. In prayer. Which is interesting because lately my prayers have been fists to the sky, gut wrenching cries of panic and begging to stand still. To keep myself here. I paced Barnes and Nobles the other day with my husband on the phone telling me I wasn’t running. I was there. I was here. I am here. He said I’ll be okay. I love him.
But I don’t think I have a lot of faith in everything else, though. That things will be okay. That we don’t have a massive dark stormy cloud racing towards us.
Is faith the belief that if that shitstorm hits, I can survive it?
Stacey Parshall Jensen is a vibrant Mixed Blood screenwriter, storyteller, filmmaker whose stories overflow with dramatic tension of dynamic relationships of the flawed who find their strength, heal their wounds and triumph over their obstacles. She’s co-owner of Through The Wilderness, LLC, a film production company dedicated to untold stories and new takes on old tales. TTW’s debut production she wrote is “Blessed” a Native female action short about miscarriage, motherhood and fighting for family. She plans to make more movies where she can blow shit up.