When faced with life’s big questions, how do we accept the unknowable?
With a young child’s absolute trust in what her father said, I truly believed my dad when he told me he knew everything. I remember telling my friend, “My father knows everything,” while being quite certain her father did not.
A child’s world is so narrow, the idea that an adult could know everything seems perfectly reasonable.
As we mature, our world enlarges through education and life experiences. So, too, does our grasp of how much there is to learn about our universe.
While vast knowledge has been acquired throughout the millennia, research is being conducted around the globe with the intention of learning more and more, especially as it benefits humankind.
What Can We Know of God?
What of our understanding of God? What do we truly know?
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he wrote, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
There have been numerous interpretations of those scripture verses, yet we can understand Paul was stating the obvious—there is much we do not know, and what we do know of God is of necessity limited by our human nature.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
—1 Corinthians 12-13
Jesus spoke many times of the Kingdom of God and likened it to a pearl of great price, a hidden treasure, yeast, and a mustard seed. His metaphors were an attempt to help people see, to understand the breadth, depth, and nature of God.
Though we read Jesus’ words, including, “The kingdom of God is within you,” do we truly have a clear vision of who and what God is or the nature of our relationship to God?
We may nod in agreement when we read or hear a speaker state, “God is all there is; there is nowhere God is not; the Ground of all Being.” We may quip that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Yet, do we truly get it? Perhaps we have momentary flashes of insight, but they may evaporate just as quickly as they arose.
The Mystery of God
We often say God is life, God is love, beauty, and goodness, and we see evidence of that in so much of what we encounter in the world. Often in a state of meditative silence, we may feel God’s presence as the life that infills us, the love that we are.
The good that God is may seem easy to understand until we encounter something that does not fit the pattern of our closely held beliefs. It may be then that we see through our spiritual lens dimly.
How do we explain many of the events in our lives and in the world, especially those not welcome?
While we trust that our life is eternal, we don’t know exactly what happens when we lay down our human bodies and our souls are freed. Do we return to the Presence as individualized souls or sink into the whole? Do we reincarnate as humans or something else? Could we experience life in another galaxy or even another universe? If so, do we have a choice about when, where, and how we take form again?
Taking Comfort in the Unknown
There are many unknowable things in this life. As we allow room for the unknown and unknowable, we also allow our faith and our glimpses of “what is” to be enlarged through our spiritual practices of prayer and meditation.
When our attention is on gaining a more complete understanding of who we are as individualized expressions of God, we come to have a deeper understanding of God and our oneness in God—all the while accepting that what we know at any given moment is all we need to know.
Questions to Consider:
- How can I use my spiritual lens to deepen my experience of God?
- How can I be comfortable with the unknown and unknowable?
- How would I help someone make peace with that which is unknowable?