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The wonderful, mysterious truth I often miss about God

Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock
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The answer came to a question about a friend's faith: "How do you do it?"

“How do you do it?”

Almost struggling for words, she looked at me and then off into the distance. And then she answered,

“I can’t explain it. It’s so wonderful, but it is also a great mystery.”

And in that mysterious answer, I gained clarity.

Last Thursday I enjoyed lunch with a dear family who, over many years, has extended uncommon and extraordinary affection to me. Sitting among the four adult children (the fifth unable to be there), a dear mother and the memory of a father who passed on three years before, one felt the deep threads of kindness and devotion that course through this family. And now, kindly enough, to me. Our conversation ranged from families to careers, memories to goals, blessings to trials. Good-natured ribbing mixed easily with honest consoling.

And that’s when I asked the question.

“Faith is so palpable for each of you. The choices you make, the values you model, the very way you live expresses a deep sense of and trust in God’s presence and partnership. How do you do it?”

This is when Julie offered her answer.

You see, prior to entering the Church, once I honestly (I mean, honestly) gave Catholicism true consideration, I was stunned by the deep intellectual brilliance it possessed. The Gospels, the Church Fathers, the Saints, the apologists, the wondrous works of art, architecture and music offered up in the name of God… it all utterly blew me away.

But sometimes, in my all too busy, all too anxious life, I can feel my hand slip free of God’s. I trust too little. I control too much. And I keep my head down and my eyes groundward while God’s pokes and prods and calls and corrections are popping up all around me. I can understand and believe, but at times fail to feel and experience.

It brings home the brilliance of the G.K. Chesterton’s distinction between the logic of faith and the practice of it. Truly, there is a worthy need to intellectually apprehend as much of our faith as we can… but in the end, faith requires trust in that infinite wonder of God and his ways that we cannot apprehend intellectually. Chesterton observed the difference between the logician and the mystic, the logician and the poet,

“The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid…

To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

If one is not careful, we can become morbid logicians — attempting to place God in a box for our dispassionate dissection, when instead we are meant to be mystics and poets who run free through God’s eternal meadows with joy and wonder. In essence, God is not to be merely analyzed and apprehended; God is first meant to be felt and experienced, loved and lived.

“How do you do it?” I asked.

Julie’s answer and the like-minded answers from her mom and her siblings simply struck me as deeply faithful and infinitely wise.

“I can’t explain it. It’s so wonderful, but it is also a great mystery.”

That’s what I need to remember.

Wonderful, mysterious and ever-present. What an extraordinary God.

Today, let’s think a little less and trust a little more. Let us see God in the many things we oft-overlook. Whether we know it or not, God is active and engaged in every aspect of our lives.

How wonderful. How mysterious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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