It is the time of year when multiple faiths celebrate and contemplate a range of holidays and holy days. In honor of the many people within our Nueva community who practice a faith, we invited upper school students and faculty to share their stories of faith as a way to elevate and recognize the many identities and beliefs that shape who we are. Participants were asked to respond to one of the three following prompts:
- How does your faith shape who you are?
- What does your faith provide you with?
- What do you want people to better understand about your faith?
We know there are many more stories within our community and we invite you to share you story through this form.
Allen Frost, director of the innovative teacher program
My faith provides me with a way of being in community with others, and of situating my life alongside other lives—both human and nonhuman—in this world. When I reflect on my Methodist upbringing, I think a lot about a passage from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. I didn’t grow up in the Black church, but Walker’s evocation of churchgoing as, fundamentally, a ritual of human connection resonates powerfully with me: “Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
I also think about a scene from the delightfully weird Midwestern movie Lars and the Real Girl, in which a Protestant church lady explains why she’s come over to a dying woman’s house with food: “That’s what people do when tragedy strikes. They come over and sit.” Faith has to be lived, in the everyday, and with others, or else it’s nothing.
David Alban Hidalgo, upper school associate teacher
When my family moved to Washington state from Ecuador when I was 11, my life completely changed. Being so far from home forced my family to deepen our understanding of our Catholic faith, which had been a commonplace cultural norm back home. I began to pay more attention to my father—who, as of 2020, is an ordained Catholic deacon—when he talked about the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. This series of meditations, contemplations, and prayers was written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century Spanish priest who founded the Society of Jesus (a.k.a. the Jesuits). Listening to my dad, I internalized a lot of the underpinnings of Catholicism and Ignatian Spirituality, which include a focus on contemplation in action, intellectual curiosity, and attempting to “find God in all things,” the idea of listening to the ways God moves in your life.
While this spiritual foundation has provided me with comfort and peace throughout my life, keeping my faith strong has not always been simple. It’s easy to agree that we should love our neighbor and be outraged at injustice; actually choosing to love and forgive others, letting go of my pride, ego, and vanity, is often really hard. Not to mention, as I grew up and learned more about the injustices of the world, I often felt genuine despair. I became obsessed with what some philosophers dub the “Problem of Evil.”
As I grappled with this problem in college and beyond, I also began to ask myself deeper questions (What is math? Is it invented or discovered? What is consciousness? Are the impulses towards love, justice, and mercy really only chemical reactions in our brain?). Through much searching, I keep finding my way back to this worldview: a faith that makes sense of the brokenness of the world and provides a joy to keep on living, a faith that centers an incomprehensibly smart Creator.
My faith provides me with joyful hope and an internal light amidst the destitution and injustice of the world: it’s meaning that suffering can’t take away, it’s an identity that won’t ultimately crush me, and it’s my basis for choosing love everyday and working towards the justice this world so desperately needs. Ultimately, however, I do not have faith just because of what it provides for me. I believe in it because, after a lot of philosophical and spiritual searching, I believe it to be true.