Mysteries in the Stillness
I enjoy a good mystery. It is a pleasure for us to try to think our way through the threads of a story and try to sort them out. Mysteries engage my attention, whether they are Sherlock Holmes or film noir or finding mysteries in the stillness.
Some of us approach spiritual life as a way to solve our mysteries. We come asking questions and seeking spiritual answers. Our intention in beginning a practice of listening to sacred stillness is hearing the answers. We want to hear the voice of God whisper truths in our ears.
We look forward to solving the mysteries of our lives, overcoming them with concrete facts.
Many of us have a difficult relationship to mystery. We have been taught mysteries challenge us with puzzles to solve. Our mysteries are ones we have read or watched in which detectives work to find an answer.
Our lives are filled with larger, more significant mysteries than the ones we find in detective stories.
Some of us approach the mysteries in our lives like detectives. We gather clues and cross-examine witnesses, searching for solutions and answers. It is as if we can find and weigh evidence which will help us solve our mysteries.
I know people for whom solving the mystery, finding the right answer, is the highest priority.
We may pride ourselves on being people who keep working until we find an answer. Each question has an answer and we will not rest until we find it and share it with the people around us.
Other people appear not even to notice the mysteries around them. They walk through their lives seeing only answers and certainty. The idea of ambiguity or mystery makes them uncomfortable.
Rather than looking for solutions, mystery invites us to live into sacred mystery.
Mysteries in the Stillness Within Us
I believe the mysteries in the stillness are not only all around us, but also within us. Spiritual life draws us into situations where we can recognize and appreciate our mysteries. Though we often still try to analyze our way toward solutions, we can become more open to mystery.
The mysteries in the stillness within us are not merely invitations for us to reason our way toward solutions. It is not up to us to rationally solve each mystery.
Rather than looking for answers, mysteries in the stillness invite us to live into sacred mystery.
When we approach our mysteries like detectives we start at the outer edges and work our way inward. We try to assemble pieces of the puzzle which allow us to construct a solution by fitting them together.
Listening to the mysteries in the stillness within us is not about starting at the edges. The mysteries we find within ourselves look us straight in the eye.
When we practice listening to mysteries in the stillness we are not assembling solutions, but building a relationship.
Mysteries are not challenges for us to meet or puzzles for us to solve. Like any other relationship, we slowly allow listening to mysteries to become knowing the mysteries. We invite mystery to find its place within us and we come to recognize its mysterious beauty.
Some of us deliberately intend to spend time with mysteries in the stillness every day. Mystery helps us grow stronger in ways answers and knowing cannot. Mysteries in the stillness grow in us as we pay attention to mystery in the world around us.
We begin by listening to the mysteries in the stillness.
Our practice is more about embracing mystery and listening to stillness than about finding answers.
Spending Time With Mysteries in the Stillness
We do not need to spend our time and energy assessing and categorizing the mystery we find within us.
It is not as if some mysteries are significant while others are everyday. We do not need to choose which mysteries we need to solve and which we can ignore.
I find myself surrounded by and immersed in mysteries. The more I try to know and understand the more mystery I discover. There are mysteries in the stillness all around us, and within us.
We are fortunate it is not our responsibility to solve all the mysteries we encounter. Mysteries, some new and some familiar, emerge from the stillness for us to explore.
The mysteries in the stillness are not puzzles for us to solve. They are not tests or challenges for us to overcome. We are not detectives hired to find and fit together all the evidence so we can find the answer to the mystery.
The mysteries we find in the stillness are not separate or removed from us. The mysteries, like the stillness, are within us as well as in the world around us. We listen, getting to know ourselves better.
Exploring Mysteries in the Stillness
As we practice listening to sacred stillness, mysteries reveal themselves to us in the stillness.
Listening, without assessing or judging, we wait for the mysteries to tell us what we need to hear.
We decide many times each day whether we will explore the mysteries we discover in the stillness.
Some of us believe the mysteries will be too confusing or upsetting. We like our lives to be the ways we have organized them and easy for us to understand. Mystery seems to be frightening and intimidating, and we hide our faces.
Others will take their first steps into mystery today. We are not detectives trying to solve the mysteries we find. Living into these sacred mysteries is a relationship we are willing to develop. We may recognize a mystery in the stillness for the first time today.
Each time we open ourselves to a mystery in the stillness is the first time. We look mystery in the eye and it looks back into ours.
When will we take time for listening to the mysteries in the stillness today?
How will exploring the mysteries in the stillness help us know ourselves better this week?
[Image by starmist1]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.