Decoding Mystery, the Apocalypse and Me

My parents used to tell me, “wipe that look off of your face.” This was that look that said, “You are so wrong. I am right. But I am not going to give you the satisfaction of an argument. I am just going to sit here and be right.” It’s a hard look to wipe off. Resolving it meant leaving the room.

I have this look on today. “Surprise! The rapture didn’t come. I told you so!” I have been carrying on about this at home a bit, allowing it to leak into my sarcasm several times per day. And I was right, you know. Duh. But my attitude of self-righteousness isn’t particularly “becoming” – another way my parents spoke about beauty. There is no grace, no humility, no mercy in it. Mercy, like all our best traits, is something we practice.

One of our Senior High students told me that he was at Nordstrom’s yesterday watching people spend their last pre-rapture money on expensive clothing. Hundred’s of dollars of Juicy products. (It’s a designer style.)

This really confuses me. If the world was coming to an end, why spend money? Why buy designer clothes? It’s not like they would be wearing them anywhere. Did they think that engaging in rampant consumerism might save them?

Thank god Nordstrom’s takes returns.

People try to hard to decode mystery. We have an innate desire to resolve cognitive tension, to organize our world into manageable systems, to separate the sheep from the goats. But, in the end it will not make us any more authentic or wise. It may have benefit from the standpoint of understanding ourselves – so I suppose I shouldn’t poo-poo that. But, mystery makes life richer – and deeper. Who wants to spend all that energy trying to figure everything out? The real joy of mystery is in experiencing it and letting it be.

Have you noticed? The minute you start to disassemble mystery, you lose it. In the latest embarrassment to Christianity, the “Rapture club” had their ah ha! experience and then quickly began organizing. I don’t know if you have worked with organizers like these folks, but they are earnest, which gives them a certain charm – but only in small doses. You don’t really want your daughter to bring one of them home.

Uncertainty and mystery have their own energy – and it ain’t all bad.  In the words of Henri Amiel,

“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring. ”

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