Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore

I was in Pakistan last year with my husband visiting family. For the brief time we were there we visited a tourist attraction called Daman-e-koh translated to mean ‘at the skirt or bottom of the mountain’. It’s basically a lookout site and to get there we drove half way up the mountain. When we reached half-way and got out of the car to walk towards the look-out, we walked passed an elderly man, probably about 60 years old – sitting on a chair, busking – playing an instrument that looked like a banjo (I’m sure it wasn’t a banjo, but that’s really what it looked like to me). In Pakistan there is no social security system, so this elderly man who was busking – was trying to earn an income to support himself and his family. The sun was about to set, and we thought we would take a close look at the view near the edge of the mountain and then come back and put some money on the elderly man’s instrument case that he had laid out to collect money.

After having witnessed a beautiful view of the whole city of Islamabad, we walked back in the direction of that elderly man with the few other tourists that were there, some walked towards the elderly man others didn’t. Those who did walk towards him stood in front of this man listening to him play for about 2-3 minutes, when all of a sudden, he stopped playing. He stood up, folded his chair, picked up his instrument case and was getting ready to walk away. Before he did, someone in the crowd yelled out in Urdu – “Ka-ha jahengeh” translated to mean, “where are you going”. This guy in the crowd who spoke up was indirectly trying to let this old man know that all the tourists were waiting for him to finish his musical piece, and then to put some money in the case he had laid out, and for him get up so suddenly, didn’t make sense. So in response to this guy’s question the elderly man answered “namaaz ke baard”, translated to mean, “I will come back after I pray”.

This elderly man whose income is the coins people leave while he is busking, had an audience willing to listen to his God given talent and give him money for it, decided to forgo the few notes and coins that he would earn, just so that he wouldn’t miss his prayer.

You might be thinking – why didn’t he just pray after he collected the guaranteed money from those tourists standing in front of him?

Simply because that elderly man is Muslim and Muslims pray at specific times of the day, totaling 5 times a day, and it’s prescribed to pray at certain times, for if it’s not, the prayer is missed. So because the sun was setting, this man needed to prepare himself for his evening prayer (the 4th prayer of the day) and decided he didn’t want to collect the donations of bystanders at the expense of foregoing his faith – praying.

Oh, Faith.

I stood there as he walked away and watched the tourists disperse and get into their cars to drive out, I realised that THAT act was faith. This man didn’t wait for anyone to provide for him at the cost of undermining his values.

In the 7 steps to unbox Your Gift, one of the fundamental steps that is spoken about is our individual values, and from that the rest of the steps and goals etc are built.

This elderly man knew that his provision was not gained from any person – tourist or non-tourist, his provision was from a firm faith that his Creator/God would provide – if he just had faith, greater than what was in front of him – some money to take home.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore

Just like birds that chirp with the faith that light will emerge after dawn, so too was this elderly man demonstrating faith like a free flying bird. He left paying tourists (in a country with NO social security) with the faith that it’s not any bystander or tourist that provides for him. He didn’t rely on what was in front of him, he relied on his faith in a higher purpose, rather than external allures of what might be considered by you or I as ‘good enough’.

I asked myself if my faith is strong enough, that if my livelihood was based on others’ spare change – would I have the faith to serve my values foremost, and not depend on the momentary, short-term external allures. What would you say? Is your faith that strong?

This elderly man demonstrated faith – he traded a momentary guaranteed income to serve his higher value.

Faith is trust. The lesson from this.

As this year concludes and the New Year approaches – I’m sure you’re aware and have heard and will hear many times that:

▪   Yes – goals are important

▪   Yes – being in the company of ethical and honest people is important (who you hang around is who you become) and

▪   Yes – being optimistic is important

But to have goals, to be around the company of centred souls and to see through the lens of optimism –  go beyond the senses of what you see and hear. This elderly gentleman showed that beyond the senses of what he saw or don’t see, hear or didn’t hear, unshakable faith is the instrument that lets you see what others can’t.

Goals are easy- just write them on a piece of paper, optimism is easy – listen to some motivational audios and videos- but faith – unwavering faith – that’s what allows a person like the elderly gentleman to walkway from something the majority of the world, especially we the tourists that day – would consider crazy, because his faith was in his Creator not in the external – tourists providing for him.

If you think about it, the world has billions of people, and these billions of people each have their own set of opinions, reasons and thoughts. And all of these opinions, reasons and thoughts go up and down like a thermometer – why place faith in something that isn’t stable? The elderly gentleman didn’t when that man in the crowd called out to him.

Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. 

In the year ahead, if people think your decion making is strange, if you think other people’s decision making is strange –bear in mind, its not the decision that is strange, it is strange for someone to demonstrate  such strong faith- that the thoughts, opinions and reasons of others does not shake an individual’s faith. This individual isn’t relying on a thermometer.

When you think of your next move for 2013, be it business, personal, professional, as a mother, as a breadwinner or as a husband, look at where your faith is invested, and that will tell you how soon you will get to your goals or if you will get to your goals.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.  Thomas Aquinas

To an unshakeable faith, equivalent to that elderly man in you.