The Winds Of Faith


In a follow-up to his essay on his idiosyncratic Christian faith, Justin E. H. Smith finds Ralph Waldo Emerson better able “to express what I myself would like to say”. Here’s Emerson:

Every man’s words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold! their speech shall be lyrical, and sweet, and universal as the rising of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if I may not use sacred, to indicate the heaven of this deity, and to report what hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of the Highest Law.

Smith concludes:

Emerson knows that he cannot argue, but can only profess. He knows that his words will fail, even as he knows he cannot suppress the desire to use words, to try to describe the character and feeling of his faith. He knows that this is just a wind blowing through him, that he cannot blow it into another who happens for now to be standing in a quiet spot; but he also knows that wind blows everywhere the same, and that it is miraculous.

(Photo by DeuxXFlorida)