Questions Without Answers

I like school. That wasn’t always the case for me, but I reaaallllyy like school now. I like the first day of class with the crisp syllabus in hand. I like the smell of textbooks sitting heavy on my desk. I like the possibility, the exploration of it, the chance to open myself to knowing more.

Knowing more… That isn’t really what education is about. Sure, gaining knowledge and experience in a particular field is good and necessary. I’m really glad my doctor seems to know what they are doing when they ask me to “take a deep breath — now exhale.” Knowledge and having the “right answer” has its place. But more and more I’m finding the excitement of asking good questions that don’t have easy answers.

Friar Richard Rohr has said that he goes through seasons where a mantra or often-times a question guides him. He is famed for spending years asking God for “one good humiliation a day.” He also likes to ask the question, “What is the gift of this moment?” I spent a short season last year asking that question of my life and it was an absorbingly beautiful period of growth. The point is, finding a guiding question can be a gift that we aren’t always aware we need.

Yesterday in the sermon, I asked us to spend time with the question, “What is the point of church?” I really would love to hear your reflections and revelations after you spend some time with that question. Is church a social club? Is it for personal or communal good? Is church a necessity or a luxury? Is church good in my life? Does it help me live a life that feels closer to God and those around me? What is the point of church?

While I think that is a worthwhile question to ask and spend time with, I think the very idea of asking good questions and then letting them simmer in our souls is important. When was the last time you asked yourself about the fear or loss or hurt you are feeling? What about the joy or gratitude or love that you feel? When was the last time you sat with the question, “Who am I?” or “What is important to me?”

These are hard questions with no easy answers, but I don’t think the answer is what matters. Of course, having an idea about why you go to church, who you are or what matters in your life is a good thing! But I’ve begun a journey of unlearning from all my years of learning. I’ve had to unlearn the importance of answers and lean into the possibility of questions and how they call (and hold!) our attentions.

Sitting with a question for 5, 10 or 20 minutes is not always fun. I’m easily distracted. I find myself jumping to a million possible answers. I scurry away from the present moment where the weighty question sits like a 10,000lb gorilla. But I keep coming back. I keep sitting beside that heavy question and allow it to take root in my life. The more time I spend with the question, the more I become fully present. And that’s the point of questions for me. Presence. The more I sit in the uncomfortability and promise of open-ended questions, the more I feel God’s “here and now-ness” in my life. The more I feel love. The less I am offended by my lack and need. The less I judge my fear or doubt. The more I am drawn towards the wisdom of not knowing.

So ask a question today. Seriously. Think of one of the questions I’ve mentioned or think of one for your own heart. Then ask the question! Write it down. Say it out loud. Put it on a piece of paper and carry it with you. But whatever you do, don’t try to answer it — at least not right away. Just hold onto it, but not too tightly. Let it become part of your journey. Let it unfold into a burgeoning companion that you trust. You trust because in our asking, God is coming. As we make room for the infinite number of possible replies, we see that we’ve made room for the infinite number of ways God loves us. Cares for us. Walks with us. Holds us. Longs for us. For you.

I am praying for you, dear friends. I hope you feel God’s inviting presence in your life now and always.

Grace & Peace, Pastor Cole

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