I’ve mentioned it once already, this idea of living our questions. I read it in Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Direction where he gives much more weight to questions than I usually do. The big questions, the raw questions about purpose and relationship and belonging, Nouwen says,
are not questions with simple answers but questions that lead us deeper into the unspeakable mystery of existence. What needs affirmation is the validity of the questions. What needs to be said is: ‘Yes, yes indeed, these are the questions. Don’t hesitate to raise them. Don’t be afraid to enter them. Don’t turn away from living them. Don’t worry if you don’t have a final answer on the tip of your tongue.’ (Nouwen 9)
This is hard to do when you like answers more than questions. When you like things neatly tied up, not open-ended, messy. When you come from a Christian culture that “wants to impart knowledge to understand, skills to control, and power to conquer” (Nouwen 8) and – by and large – wants to forget that “we encounter a God who cannot be fully understood… realities that cannot be controlled… hope hidden not in the possession of power but in the confession of weakness” (Nouwen 8-9).
The act of living a question instead of rushing to an easy, pat answer is a vulnerable place to be. Yet it is also a more honest way of life. It acknowledges we often have more questions than answers, that the neatly packaged three-steps-to-success become murkier in the living. It’s a process in which “sometimes answers are found. More often, as our questions and issues are tested and mature in solitude, the questions simply dissolve” (Nouwen 13).
At the end of 2012, I made my usual goals and resolutions for 2013. But I also found a question. It arose as I read Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James. It’s the question I want to reflect on and attempt to live this year. Here’s the question:
As an image bearer once broken and now restored by my unity with Christ, who am I called to be and how am I called to be fruitful and multiply in 2013?
It’s a big question worthy of some living and intentional thought. It’s a question I’d like to come back to for some weeks on this blog and talk about with you.
What do you think of the idea we are called to “live our questions”? Is there a question you’re attempting to live right now?