musing about mystery in Advent, continued…

Mystery. Whether about God or Jesus, nature or life, or me – not a riddle to be resolved by reason, but a reality beyond my completest understanding. The more I know, the more I know I don’t know. Nevertheless, I hear mystery’s constant call to me, “Come.” As Advent beckons me to answer, “Yes,” I ask myself: What does that “yes” look like?

In the human encounter with mystery, a common desire, I think, I feel is light. I have an image in mind. I’m peering into the mouth of a long, serpentine, seemingly endless corridor. Though, for whatever reasons, I must enter, I have a choice. I can forge on with only my native eyesight, by which, at best, I, with every step, can see only a foot or two ahead or, with the aid of a trusty flashlight in hand, I can follow its bright beam. Facing mystery, yes, please, let there be light!

In Advent, the church addresses this desire, on each of the four Sundays igniting an additional candle, symbolizing, as Christmas nears, drawing closer to the coming of Jesus, the embodiment of that ineffable mystery of God in flesh and the Light of the world. Light.

As I muse, being always a questioner and, perhaps, too, a contrarian, I also think of darkness.

I came across a poem, Sweet Darkness, by anthropologist and naturalist, philosopher and poet David Whyte that afforded me some insight (pun intended!). Whyte speaks to me, for me of moments when I can’t see. When more looking yields no better recognition. When more thinking reaches no deeper comprehension. When more words spoken in conversation or argument achieve no greater understanding. When sense and nonsense, clarity and confusion appear as one. Moments when I come to that agonizing realization that nothing I can do brings me closer to truth. Yet, there, in the dark, if I would but embrace it, accept it, I can be and I am called and comforted, known and loved. There, in the limitless darkness, I see more than I could have imagined or would dare to have believed.

To walk into darkness, hoping to see light. This, I believe (though confessing my always desire to have light in all ways), is what my “yes” in response to mystery’s call looks like.

And, now, typical of my usually biblically-based contemplation, I ask myself: What figure, what character portrays, models for me this willingness to enter the dark hoping, praying to see light?

More to come…

2 thoughts on “musing about mystery in Advent, continued…

  1. Thanks Paul!! YES!! I love this… Into the darkness hoping to see light!!! I had the unexpected blessing of experiencing this very thing on the day before Thanksgiving, and learned a powerful Advent lesson. Our neighborhood experienced a power outage while I was babysitting our granddaughter. After being told that “Grammy could turn the lights back on” she burst into tears. I picked her up and stumbled through the basement to locate a candle. I was terrified too because I don’t like the dark at all either. After finding the candle we went upstairs to the kitchen, the “hangout” of our house. As she curled in my lap while clinging to my neck we looked at the flame of the candle in front of us. We could see each other in the dim light, but little else. That dim light energized us, with energy we didn’t have while the tv was blaring, and the IPAD was buzzing and I was on Facebook. We were two people who are afraid of the dark, who were comforted, and even inspired by a dim light. For 40 min, we sang and clapped and told each other stories until her dad came and picked her up. I felt very ready for Advent during the power outage even after my granddaughter left and I was alone with my candle. In the silence and stillness I could feel God, I was awake and Ready for whatever was to come!! In a really odd way, I was a little sad when the lights came back on! The darkness for the first time ever had brought me peace. Maybe the next time I need to “see the light”, I’ll sit for a while in the dark. Looking forward to your next installment!


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