Mystery abounds where most I seek answers. – Ray Bradbury
Recently, I found an article that discussed “mystery” and it started my wheels turning. As usual, I came up with more questions than any answers: What is it? Where is it? Can I touch it? Is it important? What is the impact on us when our lives become devoid of mystery? How is it that something so powerful as mystery can be so elusive?
What you will find in this post is some of my thoughts about the topic and hopefully it will get your own wheels spinning.
Historical Beliefs About Mystery
The early concept of mystery represented a “religious truth” one could know only by a revelation from God. In Middle English, the word mysterie referred to a “religious truth, rite or event with religious significance, hidden meaning, things not to be divulged.”
In the latter half of the 14th century, The Cloud of Unknowing was an anonymous work written by a Christian mystic. One of the things the author writes is that to know God, you have to abandon self and enter the unknowing. Once done, the nature of God, or mystery can be known.
I grew up in the church and heard Sunday school teachers, missionaries, and preachers refer to mystery. In fact, God and mystery seemed to go together like pancakes and syrup. Yet, I don’t remember anyone explaining “mystery” in a way I could understand.
Mystery is . . . well . . . a Mystery.
This thing I call mystery, or mysterious, is elusive. When I try to understand the essence of it or talk about it, I find myself at odds with both the ancient and modern world for several reasons:
- I can’t come close to anything like controlling mystery and I certainly can’t force it to appear when I want it to. It is magical and shows up when it is least anticipated into my life.
- Our world is about “doing”, like a craft, activity, or ritual I perform. In rituals people have found deep mystery but I think it’s more the willingness to be open to the moment. Rituals allow us to step into a place special where mystery meets us.
- The modern scientist tells me that to understand anything, I must be able to pin it down, dissect, or examine it under a microscope. Take it apart, learn the facts, define it in quantitative terms—size, weight, and other properties.
Neither the ancient world nor the scientists got it right, because the nature of mystery is enigmatic and elusive. You can see the results—grasses pushed around by its presence, a kite dancing in the sky, or a wind turbine turning—but can’t grab onto or hold it in your hand.
What, then, is this thing called mystery?
I can only share with you what I have come to know and understand. Hopefully it doesn’t sound confusing or too contradictory to what I’ve already said.
- It is the wind that caresses my face. It is intimate and personal. I feel loved by a spirit, God, Earth Mother, whatever you choose to call the “Other”. It may be gentle or fierce but clearly present in my life.
- Mystery is beyond the beating of my heart but it lives there (our wondrously and mysteriously made bodies). It is the feelings I get when something happens in a conversation and when I walk away, I know I can’t define what has happened but I know it was special. Mysterious.
- It is the filling of my senses when I am immersed in beauty: a painting that invites me into the scene, mountains that touch the sky, a sleeping baby, or a sunset that is brilliant, bold and yet reminds me the day is done. Even a yarn shop or quilt store holds mystery for me, because the colors, weaves of thread, and patterns make me happy.
How do you know you have touched or been touched by mystery?
I hope you have those places you find a sense of mystery, or feel wrapped by it, like a soft blanket that brings comfort, peace, warmth or whatever you need in your life in that moment.
Haven’t been touched by it lately? Have you paused to find, feel, or sense it? Can you let go and be in the moment? To discover or experience mystery I have to be intentional about letting it into my being. I may not see it, but in some way, it may illuminate something in my life.
Does it even matter whether we have mystery in our lives?
I believe mystery is one of the things that lies at the heart of all life and it is the act of engagement with life that allows us to step into the mystery. Who are we without that magical, uncontrollable, illuminating experience of mystery that reminds us, we are so much more than what can be seen touched, or measured by anyone else? When I ask myself that question the words automaton, less than, and empty, all come to mind. I know I want my life and yours to be as full as possible.
Below are links to a couple of articles about the importance of mystery in our lives. The spotify link offers music I use when meditating or just for a ride in my car that sparks my senses to slow down.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll sign up for my blog posts and come back again. Today, this is my wish for you . . . go pause for a few minutes, have a conversation with someone and look and listen to them with new eyes and ears, then see what mysteries you may find.
this is what I know for today,
Mystery seeks us and we can choose to receive it or turn away from it.
P.S. I also love Mystery books. If you love books like I do, look for my next posts about biblioholism.