A break between my exams saw Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith on my desk. It is hardbound, with a jacket that gives the impression of being a beloved old prayerbook, or something akin to an old diary of someone you just met.
Now that I’ve read it I can’t think of any cover more befitting of the story told within its pages.
The chronicles of the Reb and the Pastor are brought along side by side, and portrayed almost simultaneously. They run in tandem, each their own little world, and though worlds apart, each connected to the other through something inexplicably human, something that beats at the very core of our conscience.
The feeling of embarrassment at having to deal with a childhood mentor on a personal level is one I share with Mitch, although I was hardly recognized enough to be asked for a eulogy. (Not that we do eulogies in our faith; remembering the dead mostly consists of praying for them, preferably at their graves.) The confusion and nervousness were palpable from the first page. And just like being around Al grew on Mitch, the book grew on me too. It felt somewhat like I think it would if I could get to know my grandfather now. He was no preacher, but he was wise beyond anything I could hope to achieve. Reading about the Reb Albert felt like living an opportunity I never got.
Henry’s story had many more ups and downs. If the portion about Al was akin to catching up with childhood friends, the portion about Henry would be making new ones at college. Much more nerve wracking and full of uncertain potholes. The former feeds fuel to the age old fire of bonding and faith, and lends light to the ignition of the later, which seems to spread out into uncharted waters.
There were a couple of things that struck a cord in my heart.
Maybe all you get are chances to do good, and what bad you ain’t much bad at all. But because God put you in a position where you can always do good, when you do bad, its like you let God down.
This. In a world where there’s nothing to stop anyone from doing evil, it is faith put in these simple words that holds the lens that could change someone’s paradigm.
Why keep serving God? …Where can you go from God? He’s everywhere.
…You can’t work your way into heaven. Anytime you try to justify yourself with works you disqualify yourself with works. What I’m doing here, everyday, is only my way of saying ‘Lord, regardless of what eternity holds for me, let me give something back to you. I know it don’t even no scorecard, but let me make something of my life before I go.
‘And then, Lord, I’m at your mercy.’
All the sufferings and mistakes in his life taught Henry a powerful and all encompassing lesson. These words are the gist of that lesson. Us puny little humans could never even hope for our actions to measure up and make us deserving of prizes. God’s prizes come from His love and His mercy, and if He decides that I don’t deserve His mercy there’s nothing I can do. But I can make other people’s lives better, even if its just a tiny thing, because my actions can measure up to that.
The messages carries forth in this book may sometimes seem trivial and easily derived from common sense, while at others far fetched. Nevertheless, they are important codes to love by, and it is definitely for you if emotional stimulation is what you need in the realm of faith. The human soul relies on emotional instincts when it comes to the question of these things. The unlikely routes as are portrayed, shows us many facets, shared by almost all major religions, that would otherwise not shine.