"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
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.
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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.