This Chapter will be the subject of the February 17 meeting in the Buxton Room – 7-8pm.
In Chapter 2, Elnes discusses uncertainty. Although we may want to believe that we have all the answers, or at least some answers, the bedrock of life is in constant motion, and we cannot know what comes next.
What is the value of uncertainty? What happens in religion, for instance, when rather than embrace the mystery, the leaders claim to have definitive answers? What happens in love when it becomes predictable?
If we are to live an engaging life, and remain engaged with others, we need something greater than certainty as a foundation. As author John Ortberg observes in his book Faith and Doubt, “We all think we want certainty. But we don’t. What we really want is trust, wisely placed. Trust is better than certainty because it honors the freedom of persons and makes possible growth and intimacy that certainty alone could never produce.
Do you find this is true in your own life? Is trust what we really want, rather than certainty?
Elnes describes a story in which Brother David Steindl-Rast counsels a man who was in conflict about the uncertainty of his path in life. Brother David described a swan whose walking on land seems awkward and sloppy, but when it enters the water, is majestic and regal. Brother David advises, rather than dwell in uncertainty and awkwardness, replace this orientation with trust, and you will move toward the place where you are meant to be. His story of the swan is woven with the work of Maria Rainer Rilke and her poem, “The Swan”. Here is a link with the text and recitation of this poem.
Have you felt like that waddling swan? Have you had the next sensation, being surrounded and lifted once you set out on the path that was meant for you? What were those times like?
Elnes considers the story of the paralyzed man at the pools of Beth-zatha. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed, he does not. If he were to walk, then he would lose the certainty of his life as a beggar by this pool – he would face uncertainty, which would be worse than the life he was leading. Elnes asks, “(w)hy does Jesus bother healing this man who doesn’t want to be healed in the first place? Probably for the same reason the Holy Spirit keeps pushing all of us ‘into places we wouldn’t necessarily go ourselves.'”
Akin to the beggar at the pools of Beth-zatha, have you resisted healing in your own life? Is it uncertainty that you are avoiding? If you were healed, how were you guided to that path?
What is your reaction to the Gift of Uncertainty? What feelings did this chapter evoke?