Article from The Mouse Newsletter 11/2/20
As I write this there are a lot of things we do not know. We do not know how long this pandemic will continue. We do not know if there will be an effective vaccine. We do not know what America will become as we face our racial narratives. We do not know who will be our next President. On a smaller scale we do not yet know how St. John’s will do Christmas this year or how we will meet a future which is constantly changing. That’s a lot of unknowing.
Here is the good news. Knowing is not necessary for us to live lives filled with love, hope and joy. In fact, such gifts may only emerge in times of unknowing. Such times require faith which is the conviction of things unseen (Hebrews 1:11). It is that faith that is the key to the purpose of life and the abundance of gifts that come from hope.
An anonymous work of Christian mysticism, from the 14th century, was entitled The Cloud of Unknowing. Written in Middle English this tome was a contemplative prayer guide
that taught that the way to know God was to abandon our desire to define God and, instead, to courageously surrender our mind and ego to the realm of unknowing. Such openness
would allow one to truly get a glimpse of the nature of God. This tradition inspired generations of mystics like Nicholas of Cusa, St. John of the Cross and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
It is perhaps appropriate, and somewhat comical, that we don’t know who wrote the cloud of unknowing. So there you go. And there we go as well. Maybe these crazy times can be a
gift to us, helping us. As that famous prayer challenges us we should let go of the things we cannot change and act on the things that we can and trust that, with God’s help, we will be
able to know the difference.
It is said that life happens when you are busy making plans. In the challenges of these times may we remember that one of our greatest gifts is that even if we are only beginning to
know God, this God who knit us together in our mother’s womb, already knows us, loves us and will continue to guide us today and in the days to come. If we know that, the great cloud of unknowing we find ourselves in will not deter us from our true purpose.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Oakland