The word “mystery” is mentioned over and over in our scriptures. It is a beautiful word and draws us in, if we let it.
Doctrinally, a biblical mystery might refer to something revealed that was previously hidden, like Old Testament prophecies becoming fulfilled. Or, we may read something about God that we cannot completely comprehend, such as the unconditional love of God. Likewise, trying to logically understand the Holy Trinity is another major mystery. I would even say (as a lay person) the miracles of Jesus could fall under the category of mystery. They were unexplainable to those who witnessed them and to those of us who read of them now. Our very faith is itself a mystery.
I am truly grateful for all that is hidden and beyond my understanding. Over the years I’ve learned to embrace the many things in my faith that are difficult for me to grasp, let alone explain. As a whole, those things create in me a fascination and spiritual curiosity. I want to understand, but the mere fact that my mind can’t, permits my soul to open up even more. And, this allows for broader ideas about how God is at work through other means, even supernatural means, accomplishing greater good in our world than I can imagine. I have a desire to know more how the Christian mystics of the past believed and lived.
It seems I’ve always been drawn to the the supernatural side of christian mystery. In my early adult years raising my family, I subscribed to Guideposts Magazine. Everyone has heard of this little upbeat, monthly magazine full of stories of encouragement and faith. There was a regular section in it entitled “His Mysterious Ways.” When it arrived in the mail I would look up the page number, find it, and read this section immediately to my kids. My girls did the same as they grew older and learned to read. These were very short stories which were intriguing, first hand, unexplainable experiences of believers.The writers attributed God’s miraculous hand at work in a particular situation. If I remember correctly, a book or two was published of a compilation of those stories. These were small glimpses of the divine at work in regular peoples’ personal lives and we loved them.
I remember a longer story published in a Christmas issue (Guideposts) about an encounter with angels. It wasn’t about an angel coming to make a glorious announcement to a human being, but about a middle-aged couple who were taking a walk in the woods together on a restful weekend. Both were weary from their workweek. Finally they were able to get away to talk and connect. At some point in their walk they heard voices and stopped, looked behind them and didn’t see anything. The voices were melodious sounding and came closer and closer. As the couple stood perfectly still and listened together, they looked up and saw a small group of angels floating by overhead on their way to some heavenly destination. Engaged in “conversation” the angels were oblivious to the humans below watching them in awe. Soon they were gone. The couple looked at each other in disbelief. Each asking the other with their eyes only …”Did you see what I just saw?” I still have that issue somewhere. I love that story and have no reason to discount it.
Anyway, I know there are many folks for whom faith itself, let alone God’s hidden things, are stumbling blocks. They need firm, scientific and mathematical facts alone in which to place their beliefs. I get that. But I don’t believe these disciplines to be in contention with our faith at all. Each enhances the other. My beliefs have become a blend of these things over the years. The paradox is that the more we humans learn about the mysteries of the universe, the more awesome our creator God is revealed to be. Our entire existence is overflowing with mysteries and always will be.
My point is that ALL the mysteries have their origin in the our creator God. Let us embrace them as real encounters with the Divine; gifts from the One whose love for us is the greatest mystery of all.
Creator God, your very existence is beyond our understanding. But we know you in our deepest beings and feel your presence in our souls. Being children of God, we thank you for giving us curious minds and the ability to seek understanding. And we thank you for the mysterious ways you reveal yourself to us. May we embrace these as spiritual signs and wonders from your loving hand and cherish all that is mystery. In your holy name, Amen.