“Not knowing, mysticism, attending the dying.”
In the Lutheran church (ELCA) it is common practice for a two year “confirmation” program. Usually 7th and 8th grade students meet weekly, or for extended time monthly. They typically spend a year studying the Old and New Testaments, and a year studying Luther’s Small Catechism. That includes topics like Baptism, Holy Communion, Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.
In April, in the last month of a two year cycle, an 8th grade girl very seriously asked me, “Have we learned all we need?” I chuckled and said, “No. You’ve learned enough for now.”
I firmly believe that we can not know all there is to know about God. I also believe that knowing, and by that I mean following, Jesus Christ, we can know enough about God. And following Jesus Christ takes a lifetime.
With our fast paced, access to all information at the touch of a screen (even my tech-phobic husband will say “look it up on your iPad” if we wonder aloud about a fact), we’ve become dismissive of the mysterious. We don’t embrace mysticism. Faith is to be a set of rules, followed. Holy Scriptures are read literally. If we can’t see, touch, taste, smell, experience in a way easily understood, we dismiss.
So, I’ve come to accept that much of a life of faith isn’t meant to be clearly defined or categorized. We are to be open to the unknown. Open to the un-knowable. And, in being open, we open ourselves to the presence of God, experiences of Holy that are beyond – beyond classifiable.
I can’t fully explain what it means to feel the presence of God. However, I have had moments that transcend ordinary time, moments that are Holy, almost too tender to speak of. At times, I meet others who also, haltingly, as if embarrassed dare to voice their experiences, their moments of Holy. And we look at each other and know. We’ve experienced the mystery.