An unanswered question is a fine traveling companion.
It sharpens your eye for the road.
Rachel Naomi Remen
That’s the tricky part—being able to hold fear and release, sadness and joy, assurance and mystery— that is surrounded by unexplainable hopefulness.
How do we experience God and humanity, not as a rescuer or fixer or even a comforter, but as an abiding presence?
Rachel Naomi Remen reminds us of the power of questions that confound our lives. My wondering today is an evolution of that question that has been with me for most of my life: What is my responsibility for my life and what is God’s and what just happens?
Again and again I bump up against what eludes explanation, the aligning of freedoms of choices: God’s, mine, and stuff that doesn’t fit into that binary. I’m faced with facing what is, trusting in the moment without second-guessing what is already done, and at the same time, I am still trying to control outcomes that are not in my control. How do I let go of boundaries of time, of expectations, of accomplishments, and whatever else occupies my attention in a state of brace, instead of giving space to what I cannot predict or even imagine?
Well, this seems to be one of those times.
Most of the things I do have been radically altered. I actually like being home and released from the tug of social obligations—even though most of those encounters are life-giving. I didn’t have to choose where to meet my friend for coffee or whether to invite her to my house instead. I didn’t have to figure out a meal suitable to take to a friend or whether to invite another to my house because that is not comfortable for anyone right now. I didn’t have to plan the English class I lead or wonder what my responsibilities are for Sunday church. I didn’t have to feel guilty about deciding to skip my yoga class or dreading a trip to the grocery store for things that I didn’t really need anyway.
In the wake of all this release, I have actually been sleeping soundly all night. The imaginaries that visited me at 3 a.m. have vanished or taken on a new perspective.
I have been concerned that our immigration paperwork—that makes it easy to travel to see my family—expires in July. Even though we know Mitch has a contract extension, I had conjured up all kinds of scenarios about what could and might happen during the renewal process. Without knowing the “real” requirements, I have agonized over an imagined time line and the ill effects of delays.
In order to stabilize the procedure, we were frantically preparing for an English test we were to take, even though English is our first and only language. We sent our education credentials for a costly “official” review, knowing we have advanced degrees. I applied for a job at the local University and was encouraged by the response and at the same time terrified of the possibility. I even imagined where we might live if it wasn’t where we are and couldn’t even come up with a place that made any sense.
The English test has been canceled. The degree review is delayed because the company employees are working from home. The University interview was canceled because there are so many unknowns about when classes might resume and how.
We are part of the fabric of this community and the formal paperwork doesn’t seem as pressing right now as I previously imagined. We are grateful that Mitch’s job pays him to continue transforming what it means to do his job in unforeseen circumstances. We are grateful for simple encounters with people that matter. I’ve made more phone calls and reached out to more people this week and it has been without fear or obligation.
Whether it is God’s choice, my choice, or someone else’s choice, or the aligning of freedom of choices, I don’t know. My question hasn’t changed but I have been forced to let go of some boundaries and what might be possible that kept me looking and longing instead of living into what is.
That’s the tricky part—being able to hold what is and abide in the presence of Love where fear and release and sadness and joy don’t require resolution. And the future is pure mystery.