Thursday, June 23, 2011

God only knows

I was thinking about how many questions I carry around in the course of a day. My brain has become a repository for whys, whats, and hows.

Why do I always end up wearing a white shirt when I’m eating spaghetti?
Why is my trash basket always full and my gas tank always empty?
What magical place do stray socks go to when they disappear in the dryer?
What makes forbidden things so irresistible?
What does my dog find so appealing about the taste of her own poop?
Why is it that when I was a little girl the doctor would come to the house to see me when I was sick, and now I can’t get one to talk to me on the telephone?
Why would anyone object to two people getting married who love one another and are committed to spending the rest of their lives together?
Why aren’t more people outraged by the fact that in the wealthiest nation on earth so many people can’t afford to be healthy?
How is it possible that people can use God as an excuse for hatred?

When I was a kid I had a lot of questions, too. But back then, I was working on the answers and thought that surely I would have them all worked out by the time I got to be the age I am now. Instead, what has happened is that I’ve become comfortable co-existing with the questions. It’s been a process. I’ve gone from -- I gotta know the answers, to -- I’m going to have to accept the fact that there aren’t always answers, to -- I treasure those questions the most for which there are no answers. Really, I do. I’ve learned that life isn’t about finding answers. It’s about savoring the mystery.

This is particularly true for the life of faith. Seekers eventually figure this out, if they hang in there long enough. We can never find God, no matter how hard we try. We may delude ourselves into believing we have, from time to time. But in the end, it’s God who finds us. And it usually happens when we we’ve finally realized the futility of the search, when we’ve learned to appreciate our limitations in the face of unanswerable questions, acknowledging that we are not God after all. I’m reminded of that whenever I entertain a question I find myself answering with the words, God only knows.

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