It is hard to remain faithful when all the world seems to cry out that your faith is foolishness. When examples of the seeming futility of faith are piled high to either side of you, it becomes very difficult to hold on to it. Such is the life of they who live in the world where the rites of worship for your faith are outlawed, where the public expression of your faith is met with sharp reprisals and condemnation, and where you are viewed with suspicion if your faith deviates from what is accepted as ‘normal’ by the predomiant overculture of the region. It is exhausting to keep hold of your faith when it seems that everyone and everything around you is working to rip it from your hands and shatter it on the ground.
It is easier for some because they can hide the signs of their faith within the niches that are parallel in the overculture’s expressions. The loop of prayer beads with their terminal as a plain bead hides the believer in the mix of others whose prayer beads are counted as acceptable, so long as the believer is quiet in their prayers. When you can stealthily mask all signs of your deviance from the ‘norm’ you acquire the illusion of freedom. But you are simply carrying your light within a shuttered lantern, quite possibly struggling with the fear that your light will be identified as different from that which shines from the lanterns of those around you. You are stifled because you must remain circumspect and cautious in your expression in almost all ways.
The ones who must fully subsume their practices and worship in complete secret are forced not to merely shutter but completely conceal their light. They suffer countless indignations. And yet, they must present the image that they are untroubled by such slights, lest the illusion of indifference is broken and those hostile might see the vulnerability beneath. They are exhausted as well, perhaps even in despair.
With such opposition arrayed against them, these people continue on with heroism that none truly recognize. Faith moves from an emotion to a deliberate act. They step forward with the conscious decision to keep their light within their heart when all about them seeks to blow it out. Fortitude beyond what is measured in one’s physical prowess is demonstrated here. Sincerity that is measured in quiet courage demonstrates the faithful’s most ardent desire for the Beloved, thought that beloved may not be known in human words or has had names lost to time.
They who continue to keep their faith despite opposition walk with courage forward into the arms of the Beloved. And they are loved, even when their faith wavers and they question themselves with utter savagery, because they continued to seek the Beloved.