Monday, February 06, 2017

Embracing Mystery

A few weeks ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the kids and I walked around the block at night holding lit candles in our hands.

Over the last several weeks, I've had many conversations about life and faith with various friends of mine -- talking about what it is, what it has meant as part of our life journeys, asking questions, trying to puzzle things out.
One dear friend shared his personal journey on his quest with faith --- how it has changed, how he isn't moored as he once was, how that change surprised him, and that he's not sure where that's headed or what it looks like for the future. There was so much beauty in that conversation: in its possibility, in its connection, in its honesty. 

There's something really lovely about honoring those journeys -- all of ours -- and being able to talk about life -- and questions -- so openly, and in very candid ways. It's freeing, and makes me feel more open and connected and full of love for everyone I meet.
And just today, I had the blessing of talking with a whole room full of folks about the idea of faith. And I shared a quote from a fiction novel I'm reading, about a man who goes as a religious leader to a small Indian village. Everyone in the village attends their worship services except for the schoolteacher, and this excerpt is a conversation between the two of them (the schoolteacher and the vicar). 

These words leapt off the page at me when I was reading one night, and they've stuck with me ever since:

“There was one more thing he felt it his duty to inform the vicar. The vicar might as well know right now that as for himself, he was an atheist; he considered Christianity a calamity. He believed that any man who professed it must be incredibly naive. The young vicar grinned and agreed. There were two kinds of naiveté, he said, quoting Schweitzer; one not even aware of the problems, and another which has knocked on all the doors of knowledge and knows man can explain little, and is still willing to follow his convictions into the unknown. ‘This takes courage,’ he said, and he thanked the teacher and returned to the vicarage.”
(from I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven)
I LOVE this idea that man can explain little. 

I think I love it so much because, the older I've gotten, the more mystery there is: in life, in the journey, in the joys and sorrows, in the questions, in the people that come into your orbit, in the whys and hows and I don't knows.

And sure, there's a part of all of that that can be really difficult: stubbed toes still hurt. Fear can be immobilizing. Life can jar you, and suddenly you don't see things like you once did, and maybe you're unsure of what you thought you knew. You might wonder who the hell you are. Obstacles may seem insurmountable. Sometimes broken hearts still ache and feel...broken. Piercing questions don't just go away. Pain sometimes has a way of going slow. 

I get all that. I do.

I happens, right?

But maybe -- because life happens -- these ideas take my breath away all the more.
Reflecting on these conversations over the past couple of months leaves me feeling grateful for what has been shared with me, and for the beauty of friendship and love and hope.

I love the mystery of the journey: its gentleness and ambiguity, its sometimes harsh realities, the endings, the beginnings, the hush and go. 

These days I have a lot more respect for it -- and for whatever that looks like: from my vantage point, or yours. There's something really lovely about putting our arms around each other for this walk, sharing our lights as we hold our hearts in our hands.

There's something about embracing possibility, choosing hope, living in faith.
It has made all the difference for me.
And there's something really beautiful about taking your little light and stepping forward into darkness, in whatever facet of your life---even when you don't know where you're going, or how it's going to go.

But you step anyway.

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