Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Post From the Past

--Written in 2012--

There is a question, or rather, a conversation I have with God several times a year, that he never answers. Or if he does, it doesn't stay answered-feeling for long. These experiences, wherein I basically think/pray myself hoarse, feel to me like... a schism, a crack, in the otherwise bright and undulating trail of my faith, which winds in and through my every action, emotion, and adventure. None of you get to know what I am asking God, but I feel very strongly that most of you have one or two of these questions yourself. They are tucked away in the back of your mind, and you fire them upstairs to the Big Guy from time to time with accompanying notes of curiosity, fear, and sometimes anguish. Ah, life.......

... I reached the end of another round of interrogation with God recently, and this time, I'm just letting it all go, telling myself that it is good not to know everything that God thinks. This is the good-enough-for-now answer that feels the most right, and I am reveling in it. After all, I reason to myself (with Dieter Uchtdorf's help), that if I were perfectly able to understand the creator of the universe, well, then, he might just be a figment of my imagination. But I don't! And he is not! He is mysterious and wonderful.

I think that Heavenly Father leaves some questions unanswered on purpose to keep us talking to him, to keep us asking why and which way and what next. And, hopefully if we are wise enough, we will also remember when we speak to him to thank him for all of the certainties he has held out to us already with open hands.

Ok, wait, there was a point to this philosophizing. During this last round of questioning, I kept thinking to myself, "I'm tired of leafing through the scriptures, I need something else to lift me up." I had in mind the great feeling, the aha! moment, I get at the close of an amazing book, or the end of a phenomenal movie. That fullness of beauty was what I wanted to feel as I asked my question. After all, God made me a lover of beauty and all that lies behind it. He and I talk really well and easily through that medium.

Today I was stocking up on summer fiction in the GW library, in preparation for my upcoming flights around the globe. As my hand reached up to the top shelf for one of my favorites, a book that made me see art in ways I had never seen before, Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev, I froze. My hand instinctively pulled down instead a 5 year old reprint of another Potok book, The Promise. I've never read it, but the graphic design on the spine drew me in, and just one glance at the duo of quotes near the title page brought me to that feeling of joy, warmth, and trust in Deity that I sought. Don't ask me why. Don't worry if the following doesn't move you the same way. Just celebrate with me the marvel of the written word, the ability of books, art, and music to transport you to different trains of thought, different people, ideas, and feelings that you never would have otherwise encountered, but which fall into step perfectly with you as you continue to make your way through that winding, undulating road of faith.

If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. but what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.
- Franz Kafka

Master of the Universes, send us our Messiah, for we have no more strength to suffer, Show me a sign, O God, Otherwise... otherwise... I rebel against Thee. If thou dost not keep Thy Covenant, then neither will I keep that Promise, and it is all over, we are through being Thy chosen people, Thy peculiar treasure.
-The Rebbe of Kotzk

(Bear in mind these are Holocaust survivors)

--- Written in 2016--

I can't remember which question I asked God in my 20s that I was referring to above. Nor can I remember what I found so moving about the second passage. Today, that passage makes me sad. I feel sad knowing some, even many, believe they can throw away their identity as the Chosen people of God. Thinking He is not keeping His Covenant with them because of some mortal difficulty or another.

I have some different questions I've been firing up to God over the last two years. I still have some un-answered left-overs from my 20s, but I've made some adjustments to my life and outlook and I'm ok with the unanswered. Since we're talking about faith a lot, someone asked me recently why I stayed in the Mormon church, and my answer is that I made a covenant with who I believe God to be, and even if He is not who He is cracked up to be (though I believe He is), I am determined to be who I said I would be, in 1993, 2010, and 2014 (my baptism, endowment, and marriage dates, respectively). There is enough beauty in that.