Live the Questions

Still reading Nouwen. His work is full of big ideas! In the book Spiritual Direction, Nouwen speaks about “living the questions.” He encourages readers, “Live the questions until God, sometimes like lightning, reveals enough guidance to enable you to live confidently in the present moment.”

To further illustrate the concept, Nouwen quotes the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who wrote in his famous work, Letters to a Young Poet, “I want to beg you as much as  I can…to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves…Do not seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Big idea: Live the questions now.

Often, we (especially people of faith) look hard for answers. We are more comfortable when there are clear cut reasons for every part of life. Sometimes we even create those reasons, and pluck scripture (out of context) to support them. We are most comfortable living the answers.

How would the conversation change if we learned to live the questions, as Nouwen suggests? If we welcomed mystery as a friend, and stopped trying to solve every part of faith as though it were a mathematical equation on the board?

One year of seminary has convinced me that I will graduate with more questions than I brought to the classroom. I am learning that this is okay. Better than okay, this is good.

Sometimes asking the right questions frees us more than having all the answers. The best parts of life may, in fact, happen while we are living the questions.

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