Ask me "If you could meet anyone famous, past or present, who would it be?," and my answer would always be the same: Benjamin Franklin.
Yes, he was one of the Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States. We all know his other bragging rights included his inventions and advancements in Science. Yep, he was also a diplomat, postmaster, politician, and an accomplished author....blah, blah, blah, and so on...All undeniable and incredible marks left behind by a life definitely not wasted.
However, my deep rooted curiosity and fascination with him goes way beyond the obvious or predictable. When I stuck my head out of the history books and dug a little deeper, I saw another captivating version of this man unfolding that I would have liked to have met:
The little boy with very little formal education who became an avid reader and writer.
An imaginative and witty sixteen year old that took on the pseudonym, Mrs. Silence Dogood, after his brother refused to publish his work. Then, he cleverly submitted his letters to his brother's newspaper which were published and delighted readers with his brother not realizing it was Ben behind the pen.
The self taught swimmer who built his own wooden flippers and swam often for many miles on the Thames River.
The innovative man who proposed a new alphabet to eliminate the letters C, J, Q, W, X and Y as redundant.
Then, I began to soak up his collection of proverbs and witty maxims such as “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” and “He that lies down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas" he published in Poor Richard's Almanac. I appreciate his attention to thrift and courtesy, with a delightful dash of cynicism.
Each quirky find or odd story here and there just added to the way I have always been drawn to the manner in which he perfected his unique balance of facing life with such refreshing wit and extraordinary wisdom that only Benjamin Franklin could do so well.
Okay, get ready for the segue! Out of all his quotes, the one that has connected with me the most is "the way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason;" We live in a world based on fact or fiction, wrong or right, yes or no, black or white. What about the grey areas!?! I loved that such a successful scientist that based his discoveries on fact still gave as much emphasis and importance to his faith. So much so that he allowed them to live harmoniously together without question or judgement. Bravo Mr. Franklin! You and your willingness to see and promote both is something still many of us battle to do these days.
Nobody argues with fact or reason. If it can be proven, it must be true! We can and do easily accept and choose reason over faith. So, what about faith? Why is it so much harder to trust what we feel over what we can see. Faith has been referred to as a leap that one takes as if it is a more daring and almost impossible path to choose. It does not provide the same safety net that reason does but the end result is usually more special because it is felt so much more in the heart than in the mind. So, why do we hesitate to accept faith if it does bring us such a beautiful sense of comfort and joy?
Referring to my last entry about receiving the feather I asked for, I sadly admit I asked for it with my eye still slightly open. Reason crept in and compelled me to daringly ask for one more. This time more specific (and more difficult) than the first. A blue feather. Hence, my leap of faith. If this is true and real, send me only a blue feather. Why did I doubt the faith I asked for when it was given to me? Why did I allow reason to have a say in this at all? Forgive me Ben, but, I do not know.
As the hustle and bustle of the holidays crept in, I became so busy that I stopped pondering my choice to ask for more or if faith would shadow reason in this personal battle I created. Then, it surfaced and I found myself back to where I started when I had to, once again, choose between the two.
My son had to build a shoe box diorama and give an oral report about it in class. I was eager to hear about how his presentation went and he told me in the middle of talking, the weirdest thing happened..."A blue feather landed on me and I had to stop and knock it off." A BLUE FEATHER!?!
At first, I thought why would he get to see the feather and not me? Maybe the sender was afraid I had not totally shut the eye of reason again !?! Maybe it was intentionally given for him to see because I have thanked my loved ones for watching over him and they were validating their presence around him to me.
I asked my son how he thinks it got there and he said he thought another student might have had some blue feathers on her project and one must have blown away. Enter reason. Which path would I choose this time? Out of all feathers though, it was a blue one! Enter faith again.
I have chosen, this time, to put complete trust in something I can't explain and I will not be asking for anymore feathers. However, I will be open to seeing them or hearing about them, without question, if they choose to return. Thank you Ben, thank you feathers, thank you dearly departed for renewing my faith.