Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Dark of Doubt

 nightfall in the desert

As I sat and watched the approach of night in the desert skies, I reflected upon a very lively conversation I read on someone's "blog" as people were expressing their concern over the fact that, as they got older, so much doubt was creeping into their long-held beliefs.

As I read that blog conversation I thought,  "Actually, you may now be on the road to a deeper and more vibrant faith." 

There is a line from a very popular hymn in the Christian tradition, "Drive the dark of doubt away." It's a nice hymn,  but I could never bring myself to sing that line.

 I welcome doubt. My doubting is the door to lively faith.

I grew up in a faith tradition and went to school for many years to study theology.  When I was young, I felt as if I had the whole "God thing" pretty well figured out. But as I got older, a greater wisdom dawned upon me. God is pure, unexplainable, dynamically changing "mystery." All the doctrine, all the teaching, all the volumes of books about God are simply feeble attempts to somehow get some insight into the vast mystery - a  mystery that can never be explained, but  only "somewhat and sometimes" experienced at a deep level of awareness.

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke once advised a young student:

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves as if they were
locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don't search for answers, which could not be given to you now, 
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far into the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.

I sit in the desert and welcome the darkness as it falls. The darkness is frightening in some ways. We seem to have less control in the darkness than we do in the day.  The darkness is also mysteriously wonderful. 

I welcome the darkness of doubt. It helps me to love the questions, to live the questions, and maybe some day to live my way into the answers. 

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