It's All A Mystery
I will be eternally grateful that I had a crisis of faith some years ago that completely wrecked me, sent my faith spinning, and left me standing in the rubble of everything I'd built with my beliefs, not knowing what to do next.
I know; that sounds like a pretty odd statement. Nevertheless, it's true.
I spent so much of my life up to that crisis point thinking dualistically, believing everything in life could be broken down into either/or, black/white, etc.
Honestly, it made it easier that way.
Dualistic thinking doesn't require a lot of effort. If everything is black and white, and there are no grey areas, you never have to ask that many questions or do the hard work of examining your beliefs.
You just settle on a side and stay there.
Sadly, far too many of us live our lives this way. We exist in echo chambers where we hear only the things we want, interact only with people who agree with our chosen dualistic point of view, and assume that we're always right.
The exciting thing about the Universe is that it doesn't operate in a dualistic way, despite our efforts to make it so. And our efforts to reduce things to black/white, either/or are really efforts to reduce God down to something manageable and decipherable.
To modify a quote from the late Alan Watt, God is not a mystery to be solved. God is a reality to be experienced.
Annie Dillard wrote this remarkable passage that I read recently and which completely lit me up:
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. The surface of mystery is not smooth, any more than the planet is smooth; not even a single hydrogen atom is smooth, let alone a pine... Mystery itself is a fringed and intricate as the shape of the air in time.
How, then, can we reduce our beliefs and ideas about God to manageable, dualistic, or/or categories when our very lives are tinged with Mystery? How can we decide that any idea steeped in black-and-white reasoning can't have grey areas?
We can't, really, but we try to, nonetheless.
If ever there was a time for us to push away from dualistic thinking, it's now.
Our culture is divided, and we hold one another at arm's length because we decide that the only way to exist is to land on one side of an argument or another and then cling to that side as if it's the be-all and end-all.
In reality, there is so much mystery around us all the time. God, in God's wisdom, works it that way on purpose. None of us is wise enough to have a corner on the market of ultimate truth, and to think that's possible is folly.
Better to live in the mystery, to experience the reality of God as best and faithfully as possible, and to hold our truths and beliefs with open hands rather than tightly-held fists that are unable to give or receive.
May it be so for us all. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.