Mystery, not a riddle to be resolved, but reality beyond my greatest knowing, which (because it is real) constantly calls to me, “Come.” Advent, that church season of preparation for the coming of Jesus, the grandest mystery of all of God in flesh, bids me to answer, “Yes.” In answering, “yes”, seeking, looking at mystery, though light is my desire that I might see more clearly, darkness is my need.
There is a biblical figure who, for me, personifies the courageous search for light in the darkness of mystery. Nicodemus.
As a Pharisee, Nicodemus, though a living, breathing repository of God’s law, a virtual embodiment of enlightenment, cannot see clearly. Nicodemus has heard about Jesus, the marvelous words, the miraculous deeds, but, not knowing who this strange rabbi is, it’s all mysterious.
Nicodemus (who must hale from my home, Missouri, “the show me state”) must see for himself; seeking out Jesus at night (the darkness of night being a metaphor, I believe, for uncertainty and unknowing in the face of mystery).
Nicodemus and Jesus speak, but not the same language. Jesus talks of spiritual things, telling Nicodemus that he must be born again. Nicodemus, comprehending only the physical nature of things, replying as a cold literalist, wonders how he might climb back into his mother’s womb! Jesus persists, pointing to the verity, the truth about God, about life, about Nicodemus. To live in God’s kingdom, to touch Life that is life is granted only by and through spirit, for it is beyond the power of flesh, human intellect or intention, to grasp. Verily, to be born again is to dwell in a state of conscious awareness of a connection with something greater. Eventually, apparently, Nicodemus sees.
To walk into darkness, hoping to see light. This is what my “yes” in response to mystery’s call looks like. I will strive to remember this when (not if) I find myself in the darkness of my uncertainty, my unknowing:
To answer with a courageous “yes” to mystery’s call, which because of my uncertainty and unknowing is always fearsome…
To know, having said “yes”, that I might look, must look (keep my eyes open and not veil them in fear) in the hope of seeing light…
To believe that when the mystery is the darkness of my uncertainty and unknowing (meaning that mystery is not, perhaps is never wholly external, but always, at least in part, internal), then it also is the source of light; for always harbored in my uncertainty and unknowing is the seed of faith, that assurance, my assurance of the presence of the One who is greater, for the love of whom I can sing:
Humbly I adore thee, Verity unseen, Who thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;
Lo, to thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed. Tranced as it beholds thee, shrined within the cloud.