Living Advent Calendar — 4

Living Advent Calendar — 4

Dec. 2:

The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty. A human life is worth as much as the respect it holds for the mystery.

We retain the child in us to the extent that we honor the mystery. Therefore, children have open, wide-awake eyes, because they know that they are surrounded by the mystery. They are not yet finished with this world; they still don’t know how to struggle along and avoid the mystery, as we do.

We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery….

Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today, you might make a list. Not just in your head, but actually a written list. Of every question you encounter that you cannot answer. From the silly (how can anything be both “new” and “improved”?) to the profound (why doesn’t God make the processes of dying easier and less painful for more of us?). Write down all your questions:

… Why not eat breakfast? How does my Colombian friend have so slight accent, but one that sounds more Swedish? What’s it about some people who we fall in love with and not others? Where’s my favorite shirt? Why do I put off doing something that I could easily do when I know the delay will cause me anxiety? IHow to say goodbye? For 3 weeks in a row, I’ve forgotten to pick up my dry-cleaning; is there something more here? When should I take my sabbatical? Is there some way I can be a good friend to someone who is asking something of me I cannot give? Why do I love the gym and still manage to not go? Have I remembered to write all my thank-you notes? Can I ask for some need of mine to be met without worrying that I’m being whiney?… (and these just as I think of MY questions first thing this morning!)

And instead of considering one’s ever-lengthening list of unanswered questions throughout the day as some sign of difficulty or failure, begin to enjoy it as symbol of — at least — bumping up against… maybe even a your willingness to engage life in… its mystery.

Extra Credit: Read Psalm 50 at least twice, with a significant time between the readings. What does God seem to be saying to you with these words?