I have a friend who speaks of knowledge as an island in a sea of mystery. Let this then, be the ground of my faith: All that we know, now and forever, all scientific knowledge that we have of this world, or ever will have, is as an island in the sea.
Still the mystery surrounds us.
— Chet Raymo
A menorah with only enough oil to burn for a day but it continues to give light for eight days; a child born to a poor mother who is still a virgin; gifts delivered down the chimney of homes in the wintertime; the final candle of the kinara lit in the name of Imani (faith) in hope of victory after the long struggle for justice: these are some of the wondrous stories and rituals of this holy season of mystery. We are invited to to wonder before mystery, to suspend disbelief to consider the seemingly impossible!
All of these holidays invite us, as religion does at its best, to stretch our imaginations to make room for the miraculous and the wondrous. Perhaps, it does not matter so much if these ancient stories are true insomuch as it matters that we continually broaden our horizons beyond what we imagine to be the limits of possibility. Is it not from such exercises that we stir the wellspring of creativity and open ourselves to be attentive witnesses to the simple miracles of existence? Our theme for reflection this month is “mystery” and I hope you will set sail with us from our small islands of what is known to the vast sea of the unknown in this season of lights. May the illuminations of the many holidays we honor this season help to guide us on our way.
Our friends at Soul Matters invite us to reflect together, as a primary practice in our congregation’s theme-based ministry, on these compelling spiritual questions in our Chalice Circles, small groups, and committee meetings this month:
- As you’ve grown older, has life seemed to have more or less mystery in it?
- What was the first mystery to capture your imagination? How does that still shape you today?
- What has been your most successful means of encountering or staying open to mystery?
- What’s the most unprovable thing you’ve placed your faith in?
- Have you ever heard silence speak?
- Has mysterious “meaningful coincidence” (synchronicity) ever pointed you in the direction you needed to go, right when you were not sure of your way?
- Mystics describe their mysterious experiences using phrases like, “my soul turned into a tree,“I slipped and fell into the sky” and “I became a transparent eyeball.” Do any of these descriptions resonate with you? Have you had a mysterious or mystical experience that would help explain these phrases to others?
- Do you spend more time treating life like a problem to be solved, a game to be won, a struggle to be survived or a mystery to be lived?
- What’s one thing you could do this month to more deeply encounter mystery?
- If there was one mystery you could have answered/solved before you die, what would it be?
- Rev. Angela Herrera says that when we “stand at the edge of mystery, at the edge of the deep,”the armful of ordinary worries we carry, “flutters to our feet.” Has mystery ever done this for you?
- What has allowed you and your life partner to still view each other as the wonderful and intoxicating mysteries you were when you first met?
- What’s your question? Your question may not be listed above. As always, if the above questions don’t include what life is asking from you, spend the month listening to your days to find it.
The holidays are a time of both great joy and profound grief for many as we are reminded of the absences in our lives and the interiority of the season leave many feeling alone. Know that we have a dedicated and caring Pastoral Care Team that is here to provide a loving and non-judgemental ministry of presence to support those members of our congregation who are in need of some special support. You can always confidentiality request support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office.
We would also like to hear from you as we lift up joys, sorrows, and milestones, in our weekly announcements and Sunday morning services. Please do share the good times and the challenging times with our beloved religious home by contacting us at email@example.com.
Wishing a bright holiday blessings to you and yours!
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae