For those of you who read this column somewhat regularly you know that I wonder a lot.
I wonder about a lot of things, some of them worth writing about, most of them not. I wonder a lot about people (myself and others). I wonder about our place in the rest of the created order. I wonder why we think and act as we do. I wonder about our relationship with God. For that matter, I wonder a lot about God … whatever God is.
I’m content to wonder. I find it easy. Certainty has never served me well. It requires a lot of effort – effort, first of all, to arrive at it – all the sorting and judging and prioritizing. And then there’s the defending that certainty takes – always checking that I’ve not missed something; that I’ve garnered sufficient arguments to adequately protect the absolute rightness of my position. It’s exhausting. And I never seem to be able to do it sufficiently well.
But wondering – now there’s a liberating activity. I can join those who are certain and come alongside them in their world view without having to embrace what they think or believe. I can be genuinely curious about who they are and what has brought them to the understanding they have. I can find them fascinating and see them as my potential teachers. I can befriend them, though I may tend to disagree with them.
But if I engage with others who think or believe differently from me, and I do it from a position of certainty, it’s easy for the dynamic between us to be something other than friendly. If I don’t find myself needing to defend what I “know” to be true, I may feel a need to convince the other person of the rightness of my position. Wondering is a softer way to relate.
I wonder how it is that humans (along with all the rest of creation?) are imbued with something we tend to think of as “other.” I wonder if maybe that spark isn’t different from us … just not the whole of us. And that makes me wonder about the nature of God and where and how God is. Is God “person” ... an entity with character in the same way we think about humans – the way most Christians were taught? Or, might God be consciousness itself … or pure information? Or, as we Christians say, might God actually be Love ... not someone or some thing that loves, but Love itself at the heart of the Cosmos? And what does that mean?
I wonder a lot. Come to think of it, I wonder if wondering is all I’ve cracked it up to be. Maybe a little certainty wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I do know it matters to how we treat one another. Or maybe I’ll keep wondering and just try to be a kind person/self-giving person/compassionate person ... the sort of person I happened to be raised knowing about from the stories of Jesus.
Leigh Waggoner is priest at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. She can be reached at 565-7865, or firstname.lastname@example.org.