Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Ambiguity and Mystery

I am almost done with 40 Days of Decrease.  Yes, it is a Lenten devotional and here it is almost Advent, but I couldn't resist it sitting on the shelf at the library. I am going through it out of season - but probably just right for me.  Her format packs a lot of punch in a few pages.  She has a short and novel introduction to an aspect of the Gospel story (she works through John) during Holy Week.  Next she introduces the "fast" for the day - criticism, avoidance, self protection, comparison, apathy - in 40 days you can cover a lot of territory.  Then she looks at a historical or current experience of Lent and preparing for Easter. Finally, she sends you to the Scripture that is somewhat tied to her reflection.  In a few short pages a day she covers history, Scripture, self reflection and meditation all in one.  I have really enjoyed it.

Today I am going to share a sample from Day Ten where we are asked to fast from avoidance.  Here is how she frames this fast:
The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our soul's own defaults.  Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security.  
She draws this discussion from James and John talking to Jesus about how he needs to tone down the talk about crucifixion.  She asserts that they don't know how to deal with the mixed messages around them so they'll take control (sounds familiar).

She explains
To change our defaults we must first address our theology of uncertainty.  And to address our theology of uncertainty, we must first befriend mystery.  
To help us understand mystery she pulls the following quote:

As I teach the 1st graders at church I am more often referring to the mystery and encouraging them to embrace that there are some things that are God's to know and that we can trust Him.

Today I also was catching up on old podcasts and listened to the Schole' Sisters podcast about teaching the Bible.  It starts with a discussion of synthetic versus analytic thinking.  I am still blown away that Mason thought that the first 15 years should basically be synthetic thinking.  I see her point.  I wonder how to keep the mystery in a culture that wants to dispel all mystery as soon as possible.  I was trained to be a great analytic thinker.

The podcast also talks about the role of poetry in teaching scripture.  Have you ever considered poetry as key to reflective reading of Scripture??  I didn't realize that Charlotte Mason's series Saviour of the World is actually a series of poems to help students reflect on the Gospel.  Now I am fascinated by the concept.  Poetry keeps the mystery in a way that prose just can't.  Maybe that's why so many of us know so little about it - we can't handle the mystery.

Now I am thinking about adding more poetry to our lives.  Maybe I should actually read the poetry books I have collected.  I don't like mystery and ambiguity; but, I need to stop avoiding it and embrace it - just like the devotion encourages me to do.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.  


  1. I recently started forcing myself to narrate my Bible reading (which gives me a lot more compassion for my kids!) and it also got me thinking about Saviour of the World. I've found throughout the day that I somehow have had a deeper poetic knowledge after narrating Scripture. I'm not just thinking about God, I'm experiencing Him. Wow.

  2. I've always loved poetry but had never formally studied it (which in some ways I'm thankful for now). I always felt there was something I wasn't 'getting' and that that was because I hadn't been taught to analyse. I suppose what I wasn't getting was the mystery. sounds like a book I'd enjoy :)