Thursday, June 05, 2008

How to approach a mystery

I really like these definitions that differentiate between a problem and a mystery. This really made me think (obviously a good meditation for me!) so I thought I would share.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
By Sister Jean-Marie Howe, OCSO

I remember a retreat in which the distinction was made between a problem and a mystery. A problem must be solved. A mystery must be lived. A problem can engender frustration. A mystery can engender fascination.

I am convinced that spiritual life in general is best envisaged from the vantage point of mystery rather than problem. The two dynamics are very different. Confronted with a reality that we deem to be a "problem," we risk becoming anxious, impatient, aggressive, proud, and controlling in our response to it. Faced with what we come to recognize as a "mystery," we have more latitude to let go and be patient, humble, trusting, and open to awe. A problem demands analysis, action, and resolution: a dynamic I call "swimming."

A mystery invites meditation, contemplation, and readiness for revelation: a dynamic I call "immersion."

Modern secular mentality is more prone to approach things, situations, people, and even God with a "problematic" bias. As we have just seen, problems have to be solved regardless of their nature (material, psychological, social, institutional, spiritual, or otherwise). And yet the more one learns, through experience, that truth or let us call it wisdom is acquired at the price of humility, the more capable one will be of contemplating rather than analyzing the deep mystery underpinning all levels of existence...

Mysteries, by their very nature, are beyond our willful grasp. In a way, they impoverish us, eluding, as they do, our desire to control and possess. The realization that our very vocation issues from the ultimate Mystery – unfolding within it, evolving toward it – should give us pause.