* * *
My late friend, Ron, an Episcopal priest, handed me a written sermon, wanting me to read it. The sermon was written by someone else. Why wanting me to read it? Mainly for a story of Mystery.
The speaker told of being a boy and playing in the basement of the family home. His dad had told him not to go into the basement. One day the boy yielded to the lure of the taboo of the off-limits basement, as we are lured by that we are told is forbidden.
Now, in the basement, the lad began digging into the ground, as children often did before modern gadgets kids play with today. His dad discovered the boy in the basement, told him to leave, and the boy left something in the ground. Just before his dad caught him, the son had come upon something in the dirt, but he did not have time to dig it up.
Later, the family moved from that house. And the boy, now the adult cleric, shared how he had lived in wonderment ever since, wondering what he almost uncovered. He related, then, on the value of Mystery to our lives.
* * *
I have vivid recall of standing in my office, at a college where I was a Professor of Religion. I felt exhaustion at the struggle that new information introduced into my life over the last years, information that kept challenging me to leave behind former ideas and embrace new ones. I was afraid of what I would come to believe, and I wanted a ceasefire of this openness. And I was angry, angry that I could not shut down the mind and simply settle with where I believed and enjoy my career. Yet, I could not put on the brakes. Even the adoption of a new idea became soon an idea I could not rest at-peace with. I felt being uprooted from all I had thought to be true, and I felt isolated, for I knew no one going through a like process and few I could trust with my thoughts. I was quickly, according to the ideals of my faith group, becoming an unclean one ~ "liberal," "heretic," ... And, at this point, I was only some three years from losing my career, moving from a professorship to working in a nursery part-time.
Yet, looking back over 25 years, I can see now the real source of this process was not simply a pursuit of truth and integrity, but a recognition of and respect for, even love of, the Mystery-of-it-all. One could say I was seduced by Mystery, and I could not say "No," regardless of the consequences. I loved the Mystery more than comfort, but I in no way wanted the discomfort that Truth had led and would lead me to. I, certainly, took many years to heal fully from retiring from the professorship. Yet, I have no regrets as to what all happened. And, possibly, the many I knew in my faith tradition that did not take this path, did not for this was not their journey, but mine, and we, to journey Truth to Truth must be inspired and feel the inward call to do so. No one just decides to suffer immensely, including the isolation and condemnation, the being treated unclean and unfit, for being receptive to Truth. Yet, I am so thankful I did not miss this Journey, the Wonder, and I am hopeful death will simply be another threshold to its continuance.
* * *
Recently, on a walk by the river after snowfall, I stopped. The sunlight covered the river basin and warmed my face, filling my eyes with its Life. I began weeping with deep joy. This is being overwhelmed with that Something More, a Mystery not somewhere else, but here.
Yes, I am still being seduced by this Mystery, and I am still unable to say "No." This Life is showing itself to me, while hiding from me. All I can do is say "Yes" to the game of hide-and-seek, and know it is both a humbling and an opening at the same time. The more Mystery relaxes my egoic need to be in control, to know, the more I can see and feel of this Love, both concealing and revealing, in all the Glory and all the Joy.
*Brian Wilcox. 'welcomed by morning majesty'. Flickr.
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019