The Mystery

I really like going to church. I’m actually grateful for the opportunity to gather with other people and follow a liturgy that takes my attention of myself and lets me be with other people interested in loving God better. It’s also a bonus for me because when I feel like I have no words, the high church tradition I attend now lets me recite creeds and prayers that are filled with significance.

This morning I managed to get myself moving despite the lost hour of sleep from daylight savings, and I hopped in the car with friends before showing up and finding an extra seat set up for me at the front to man the laptop running the zoom camera. I like that Laurie prints out the service documents so I can read them too. Before we got into the service, I noticed the top heading about how we’re in week four of lent so the altar cloth and cleric stoles are all purple. As I read the words from one prayer on the screen, I thought about how for generations before powerpoint, congregations all had huge chunks of this text memorised. I’ve also been making my way through Umberto Eco’s massive monk murder mystery set in the fourteenth century, and that may well make it on to my list of favourite books. It has so much rich discussion of theology and what mattered to monks in the 1300s? Poverty. Or riches. Or whether one was siding with the Pope or the King. Or some other interesting things that don’t come on the radar of most modern people.

The murders take place in an abbey with a renowned library, and the narrator and his investigator-mentor have several conversations about the importance of knowledge and reason and truth and faith. While I (thankfully) don’t have any murder mysteries to solve, I have a lot of important conversations with students about knowledge, reason, truth, and faith. I’m an adherent to an ancient faith and recited today the same content in the creed real Italian monks did in the abbeys in the 1300s. These monks still had a lot of room for mystery in how God worked in a world with human agency. I also finished reading an intense volume that was a summary/commentary on the massive work by Charles Taylor explaining how philosophy and theology has moved from an age of enchantment to a disenchanted secular age. Bear with me. While that was a lot of complicated words and concepts, the short book did help me to understand a lot about the world I live in. Whether people acknowledge it or not, there is still a great deal of mystery in the universe. To me, this is exciting. I get to spend the rest of my life reading and listening and learning.

Previously, I wanted to know everything for the sake of having the knowledge, but now, by the grace of God, I see that I get to learn forever to grow relationally with God and others. I have this mystery at work in my body where scientifically the odds of nerve reconnection are minuscule but there have been spurts and fits of miraculous improvement. Hand in hand, I walk with what physical ability I have each day and still ask God for the intervention to recovery the rest of my ability. I learn more about God’s character each day when I spend time getting my braces on and setting new records on the treadmill. (The records this week are getting back to pre-blister numbers.) Mystery used to frustrate me, but now I’m excited about the journey of learning. And I’m excited to go find out who’s the murderer of those poor Benedictine monks.

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