on courage.

When I was a sophomore in college I took a class taught by Dr. Joseph Colombo: a funny older man who smoked cigarettes outside our classroom while wearing a suit two-sizes too big. Truthfully, it was the most theoretically rigorous class I've ever taken. It was titled Belief and Unbelief and it discussed - very densely, with readings from Durkheim and Marx - the problems that face people when believing in god (or gods, goddesses, yahweh, jah, or any benevolent force in the universe).

One day in class, a student interrupted him in the middle of a lecture. "But, does God exist?" he shouted. At first Dr. Colombo's reply didn't seem to make sense. He began by saying that when he went to graduate school he had a choice. He was accepted to both divinity school and medical school. And he chose to devote his life to the study of God. He said he still wondered sometimes if he had made the right choice. Because sometimes he doesn't think he believes.

I'll never forgot that. How could a man who had devoted his whole life to religion wonder if God was real? And if he did ... how was I supposed to believe?

In the last day of lecture he inadvertently answered my question. He said:

"Life is full of tragedies. Life is full of disappointments. Some trivial. Some profound. When one recognizes and confronts this - that is courage. It is the steely eyed resolve to not look away. And, in the face of these things to continue in the belief of basic trust, basic hope, and basic love."

Belief in anything - in god, or a dream - means going forward. There will be confusion. There will be hurt. But when we seek to understand, when we choose to open up again, that is courage. That is what it means to believe.

(photo) iphone | San Francisco pan handle. (p.s) all it takes is two seconds | a reminder to be brave.


  1. oh, wow. what a smart man and a powerful post. I love it.

  2. This gave me chills - it's my most favorite blog post I've read in some time! Thank you for sharing! What a beautiful thing to read on this Wednesday afternoon.

  3. Wow, Samantha... thank you so much for posting this. I am going through a really tough time right now, of many disappointments that feel like tragedies, and it was very inspiring for me to read this. Thank you!!!

    (I would love to meet that professor.)

  4. I really love this post, Sam. I love it not just for the wisdom you've shared from your professor (whom I'd love to meet!) but for your personal honesty. In a similar way, I struggle with my faith in God simply for the fact that I can't always understand or explain or quantify the existence of a higher power, or if I like the idea of a higher power, if it's even there... but if that's what I'm looking for and that is what validates my faith - not just in His existence, but in Love, Truth, Grace - then is it really faith? What's brave or courageous about demanding literal evidence from the universe in order to believe something is real? It is sometimes the greatest comfort to sit in our unknowing and learn to be comfortable with it.

  5. Sometimes I doubt myself about many things. And if there's something I want myself to have more is courage.

  6. Sam...thank you so much for sharing this. I get that struggle. I live it every day, even when life isn't full of tragedies or disappointments. Those are some incredibly wise words.


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