On just about all gift-giving occasions, as a child, I would receive the
latest Hardy Boys mystery thriller. My older brother (by eleven months)
would receive Tom Swift books. I never read his books. I don’t know if he
ever read mine. My avoidance of Tom Swift had nothing to do with the
fact that he was my brother’s, but that the books were science fiction. It
was obvious to me that I was mystery to his science fiction. I did not
need science fiction to fulfill my quest for the mysterious. Life here on
earth did plenty of that for me.
As I’ve grown, my recreational reading has continued to have a bias for
mysteries. So, to a degree, does my serious study. As Anonymous, that
prolific pundit of all time, has said, “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a
problem to be solved.” I don’t read mysteries for solutions; I read them for
the journey to solution, with all of its twists and turns!
Currently, it seems, many people do not tolerate ambiguity. We demand
solutions we can understand and accept as feasible. When we’ve
finished the book or the experience or even life itself, we relish the neat
and tidy ending. As the poet Robert Browning wrote: “God’s in His
heaven—All’s right with the world!”
But let’s not crave a solution; let’s crave infinitely deepening
understanding. Let’s live our faith as a mystery: A baby is born amidst
rumors of divinity. Everyone from kings to shepherds hears about the
child. Temple groupies see him as the fulfillment of all sorts of promises.
Power wants him dead. Once he is an adult, no one completely
understands most of what he says. He is murdered. Then things really
As we continue our mysterious journey of faith, there are at least two
things to remember: we are moving toward a solution; we will never fully
arrive there. Still, we stick with the journey relishing it as it is and in no
great hurry for it to be over. We come to love the trip for its confusions
and surprises, its advances and retreats. We don’t want it to end, and
are promised that it never will. But we do want it to continue challenging
So we keep journeying, knowing it is the quest more than the
understanding that keeps our lives expanding for eternity, and thenl we
and the mystery are one.