These words from troubadour Bruce Cockburn in his seminal song Mystery are haunting. Mystery has been educated out, spanked out, combed out, mocked out and preached out of our very souls.
And so again this past Sunday I found myself in search of mystery on a stunningly beautiful Rocky Mountain trail at sky edge at over 10,000 feet elevation. As this flatlander struggled for every breath, thoughts flooded my mind.
“Tall Tom” first introduced me to hiking when I was 17 years old. Looking up into his warm blue eyes and listening to his slow southern drawl, although six feet five inches, in my youthful adulation, he seemed about ten feet tall.
I will never forget rushing past him on our second trip, so sure that I had impressed him with my natural hiking prowess, when later that evening around the campfire, he asked me a question I will never forget.
“What was your hurry?”
“Did you happen to see the stand of virgin hemlock we passed about three miles back?” “How about the rattlesnake curled up next to the trail about a mile into the hike?” he gently asked. “Uh, what?” I stuttered. I reluctantly confessed I had completely missed them.
He then began to explain in that slow drawl of his—the art of searching for mystery in nature. Many years later, I realized he was wisely using nature as a metaphor to equip me for a lifelong search of mystery. He was preparing this gray questioning lad for encounters with the black and white naysayers whose life goal is to debunk and destroy mystery.
“Don’t tell me there ain’t no mystery.”
—What about the mystery of the Trinity?
—What about the birth of my children?
—What about the peaceful solitude of a hike at 10,000 feet in the middle of the sensory overload of nature?
—What about the mystery that takes place during communion?
—What about the Milky Way?
My dear friend Ken Davis says that we are surrounded by naysayers of mystery on both sides of the spectrum. We have the naturalists of the world that believe everything can be explained by a mathematical formula. The other side of the coin are Christians who are afraid their faith is threatened unless every aspect of God can be explained and neatly packaged.
Both sides are afraid to use the words, “I don’t know.”
How about you?
Does it scare you to say “I don’t know?”
Do you believe in mystery?
If so, where do you find it?