I hated wearing bows as a kid. This was much to my mother’s chagrin because I was a child of the ‘80s after all. Girls 5 to 50 were supposed to wear bows that were a match for the teased mass of hair upon which they rested. Deep down I knew such an adornment would only draw greater attention to my glasses, braces and headgear. Plus, they only seemed to get in the way when I was riding my bike or chasing my sisters around with a pair of scissors.
In my adult life, however, I find myself trying to put a bow on everything. Let me explain. The questions, tensions and ambiguities of life have often reached such unbearable levels that I have stuffed them into a box, slammed on the lid and attached a bow of explanation in a strained attempt make the mayhem more manageable. We all do it. It’s the reason that we tell friends that God is closing a door and opening a window when life has come hurtling through and left mere shards of hope in her wake. I get why I/we do this. We want life to make sense. No one wants to hear that life is actually more like one of those revolving kitchen doors that’s neither opened nor closed and hits you in the butt from time to time. (It’s not exactly the sort of thing you’d cross stitch onto a pillow as a means of encouragement.)
Over the past few years I’ve taken a different approach to dealing with uncertainty, not by choice but out of necessity. The questions could no longer be contained and ignored; I had to acknowledge their existence and give them permission to take up residence in my thoughts, prayers, relationships and conversations. What I’m learning, ever so slowly, is that questions have far more to teach me than an answer ever could. Rainer Maria Rilke says it best:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer…”
If you’re my friend, I need you to remind me that conclusivenss is seldom the point of this journey, that rsolution seldom births character, hope and transformation. I’ll try to remind you of this as well.