Friday, August 29, 2014

Five-minute Friday: Reach

 "Faith is homesickness. 
Faith is a lump in the throat. 
Faith is less a position on than a movement toward
less a sure thing than a hunch. 
Faith is waiting. 
Faith is journeying 
through space and through time.

~ Frederich Buechner, Secrets in the dark

Faith is a mystery to me. 

The thing about mystery is that it exists, somehow, both out of our reach and right in our midst. Mystery lingers in the air we breathe, in the eyes of the stranger lost in thought on our bus ride to work, in the eyes of the ones we love and know the best, is buried, even, deep within our DNA.  It's printed across our newspapers, in the words of writers and poets, scientists and musicians, in the questions that keep us awake at night and the ones that eat at us throughout our days. 

Mystery is everywhere, even the least likely of places. Those places we seem to believe we've got figured out. 

Mystery is not a word I ever knew in churches I grew up in, only in the genre of books that I loved as a child and still turn to every now and then as an adult.  The words of the Bible were things to be memorized; theology, something to inform my life, to give me words to answer hard questions and obscure questions, to give me language so that everything would be as clear as clear could be. So I could turn and answer other people's deepest questions about life and death, meaning and purpose, heaven and hell, salvation and faith. 


God, himself, wasn't all that mysterious. He did this because of that. His stories had clear morals to extract from them, his parables could be dissected into neat three-point sermons. He was this, because this is who God is, period. And we don't question God. The divine being in whom all mysteries are said to be wrapped up within, this one was not all that mysterious precisely because we stripped him of his mysteries by calling him by all the names we knew, but this: Incomprehensible One.

We don't know. 

These words are becoming closer and dearer to my heart than I ever imagined. They free me to embrace mystery.

We do not know. But we walk by faith.

We walk by faith, not by sight, and this, of course, is mystery. But when faith becomes something we are absolutely certain of, even God himself, is it still faith, I wonder?

For years, I never let myself reach this far, wonder at this length. That my faith is not in answers, in theology, or even in beliefs. My faith is not, ultimately, in the Bible, but in the one who is the word of God made into flesh who dwelt among us and dwells still today, though we cannot often see him or feel him or be certain of the ways he speaks to us without words. Though many questions remain - many more than answers - and some dark days we do not know if we can continue believing the things we do, and yet we remain with him, because beyond something we can explain rationally, we know we have nowhere else to go but here. But him.

It's mystery that pulls at my heart at the end of the day, mystery that makes me feel alive. Mystery that draws me to where I am on this dusty walk of faith, makes me feel at home, but for a few moments, among liturgies and ancient prayers and the bread of heaven coming to feed us in the Eucharist. Among beautiful people who wouldn't dare step into these places of worship but are trying to find their way home. Even though these, themselves, are but faint glimmers of home, my soul tremors at their touch when I'm paying attention. 

I keep reaching for him in the mystery, him as the mystery, this one I love and this one I barely know, for he is both. And he is so much more. This beautiful, scandalous, fierce and tender, incomprehensible one. 

This one I'm moving toward.

 * * * * * 

Joining Kate and the Five-minute Friday community. The prompt today is "Reach." As is generally the case, I take the prompt and write however long I need to, instead of five minutes. While I love the challenge to free write for five minutes and would likely benefit from it, I find what I need most, at the end of the week, is to relax into my writing time and let it flow, however long that may take. So thank you, for being here and joining in this process with me.


  1. Amber, I love being neighbors with you!! I especially love reading what you write. So often, it is exactly what I needed to hear. I too, am moving toward Him.

    1. Aw, Patricia. I wish I could reach through a screen right now and give you a hug. It's so good, yes, to be neighbors. I'm grateful we can move toward him together, in this little space of the world.

  2. Amber, you are so eloquent with your words; it's such a beautiful gift.

    My faith is dependent upon mystery. I have often said that if God was not as big and mysterious as he is, but someone I could comprehend, then I might not believe in him at all.

    This is truth.

    So glad to've linked up with you via FMF! Totally crushing on your ability to craft a sentence. :)

    1. Liz, what a beautiful compliment. Thank you. I am loving your words and the gift of your craft, too.

      I love how you state this: "My faith is dependent upon mystery." It seems so bold to say it like that, only because I'd never thought of it that strongly before - and so right, at least for me, too. Sometimes seeing the audacity of something like that in print nudges me in a beautiful way, reminding me of where and to whom I'm heading.

      Thank you, friend :-)

  3. Oh Amber, you say it so well. And the poem at the top is beautiful. The mystery of the incomprehensible great I AM. Thanks.

    1. Michelle, I am LOVING the words of Frederick Buechner. You're right, his words are like poetry and I want to feast on them long after I've stopped reading. Anyone, anything, who points me toward the mystery of this incomprehensible one is a gift along the journey. Thank you.

  4. Always. Always beautiful and powerful and true. Thought this Friday I would read only the post in front of mine. But then I saw you. I can't pass it up. Your ability to weave words into pictures, and thoughts, and feelings is awesome. Thank you especially for these words, "This beautiful, scandalous, fierce and tender, incomprehensible one." Blessings to you.

    1. Kelli, you are generous and kind to me. Thank you. I'm so grateful that these words speak beauty and power and truth to you. I always feel so loved on by your presence here. Blessings back to you, friend.

  5. Amber, I want you to see here in these comments how your words move people. You have a way of so gently and with such tender clarity speaking truth and process and mystery. I love the way you tell your stories and can't imagine the space that would be left if you stopped.
    I think your experience speaks to that of so many. As I'm really grappling to experience a new space of trust in God, this, my friend:
    "But when faith becomes something we are absolutely certain of, even God himself, is it still faith, I wonder?
    For years, I never let myself reach this far, wonder at this length. That my faith is not in answers, in theology, or even in beliefs."
    Praying that we can live in the mystery of God, believing in his goodness even though we wonder at him. I love you so much.

    1. Oh yes, sweetheart, praying that beautiful prayer right alongside you... "believing in his goodness even though we wonder at him." Amen.

      How many ways can I communicate to you how your words, spoken from your heart that listens between the pauses and the sighs and the heavy beats, speaks life to mine, time and time again? You do. But as much as I love your way with words, it's you that I really love, Ash. That's the stunning thing about it all. Your words are backed by your generous heart of love, and that is no small thing at all.

  6. "It's the mystery that makes me feel alive." ... That is so true, isn't it. Because as much as we tip toe around the unknown, fearing for the outcome. There is just something so very magical about the moment when ANYTHING can happen. And that has been one of my absolute favorite discoveries about Jesus as I grow older and closer. That he is exactly who I think he is. And also able to be so much more. Yes, alive. That's the feeling.