Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One More Question

Questions:  Does anybody really like them?

I don't mean your garden variety "I wonder what time the ball game is on?" thoughts, questions of basic fact that are easily answered.  No I mean the big ones -- the ones that keep you up at night. The ones that make your teeth rattle.  What do I do with my life?  Am I in the right place? Do I love X? etc. etc.  

Does anyone really love these questions?  I don't think so.  At least, not at first.  Because we want answers.  We want clarity.  We want to feel comfortable in our own skin, and these sorts of questions have a way of shaking that.  Trying to answer them is like trying to pin down a snake -- it slips right out of your hands. And then it bites you. 

But I was thinking... what if we thought of the big questions more like the sound of a bell, and instead of having to do something, we could just be the bell itself, letting that sound roll around in us, echo and fade into ourselves.  What if the act of asking does not generate a problem needing immediate solution but is itself a means, a path to the answer. 

I always think of this passage from Rainer Marie Rilke: 
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the 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 in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

1 comment:

god googler said...


Since you once pointed me in the direction of this Rilke quote long ago, I have to say it really has been a gift for me to look at the questions in that way.

My thought is that while we instinctively try to SOLVE the questions that haunt us, we also need to LIVE the questions or even better, BE the question itself. That in our seeking we live in the question deepening our own sense of who we are despite our questions we have.

To live otherwise allows our questions to possess us in a way in which we feel haunted, or owned by the questions that we have little or no answers to.

Living in this tension is far from easy and my own tendency is to indeed find some kind of clarity--but what I've found more fruitful and life giving is to admit my own powerlessness over the questions ceding clarity to God and asking for freedom from my own need for that. Ironically, I have found that I have felt a closer sense of God guiding me into what is unknown to me and yet revealing more to me about who I am in light, not of questions, but of being loved by the mystery and simply put, enjoying that ride.