Tag Archives: mystery

The Limbo of The Unknown

The Unknown. It feels so often, especially at certain times in our life, as if it is all around us. Sometimes the Unknown is all we know. It is everything. Nothing is known. Everything that could be known is a fog, a darkness, a shadow. And we are floating in it. Looking for some firm ground to place our foot. Some limb to hold on to. It doesn’t even have to be much, but something. Something to hold onto is better than nothing.

Remember moments in your life, maybe when you were younger, when you would get the wind knocked out of you? Gasping for breath, you wondered if the next breath would come and nothing you experienced before could prepare you for that moment. You were absolutely present in a terrifying limbo of unknown.

How do we live in a life, or even in moments, of absolute unknowing?!? What do we hold on to? What do you hold on to? Some have objects that help them remember times that felt safer. Some pray with all their might, to God, to the universe, to their ancestors who have weathered these storms before them… sometimes there is an answer and sometimes there is nothing. Some breathe, remembering that for everything that is unknown, we at least have this moment, breathing in… and breathing out. We fight for that breath, don’t we? As Reiner Maria Rilke writes, 

When we win it’s with small things,  
and the triumph itself makes us small.  
What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us.  
I mean the Angel who appeared to the wrestlers of the Old Testament: 
when the wrestlers’ sinews  
grew long like metal strings,  
he felt them under his fingers  
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel  
(who often simply declined the fight)  
went away proud and strengthened 
and great from that harsh hand,  
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.  
Winning does not tempt that man.  
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,  
by constantly greater beings.


David Whyte writes:

To keep despair alive we have to abstract and immobilize our bodies, our faculties of hearing, touch and smell, and keep the surrounding springtime of the world at a distance. Despair needs a certain tending, a reinforcing, and isolation, but the body left to itself will breathe, the ears will hear the first birdsong of morning or catch the leaves being touched by the wind in the trees, and the wind will blow away even the grayest cloud; will move even the most immovable season; the heart will continue to beat and the world, we realize, will never stop or go away… (from ‘DESPAIR’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words)

We face the unknown daily, deeply, and painfully. Each of us have things that give us reason to fight for that next breath. Feeling the unknown, wrestling with it, sometimes even being defeated by it, we find ourselves stronger and we find the way through.


Spirituality and mystery – J. Steven Harper

Western theology tends to minimize mystery and maximize analysis. If we are not careful, we lose the sense of the sacred which must always attend the theological task… We are dealing with a mystery too large for our minds or our pens. The preservation of a sense of holiness and reverence about all this is something we dare not lose. To do so would be to turn spirituality into something more akin to an element than an encounter.

J. Steven Harper

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Mystery… who gets it?!?

How do I describe mystery? How do I help another to embrace mystery and walk in it… to use it and welcome it in its drawing people? Mystery cannot be described for it would then no longer be considered mystery…. YET there is something to mystery that can be considered. And how then can another understand?

Mystery would not be mystery without glimpses of itself. A glimmer, a ripple, a shadow, a flash… a whisper. To sense this is to want more. To feel this is to thirst. But is there ever an absolute revelation of itself… to experience this would be to kill a mystery. For everything revealed, there must always be something hidden.

There is nothing more invitational and attractive… drawing… than mystery. To taste, feel, hear, experience mystery is to want more. To search and discover more mystery is to  be hooked for life. There is no looking back when one latches on to mystery. To show someone a mystery, to grow something that is shrouded in this, is to leave another salivating… dripping for a chance to be a part of something more… something bigger. And when the anticipation is at its peak, that is when the word spreads… that is when a legend grows.

One must then BECOME the mystery… live in it always… maintain it at all costs. Always holding something back. Always inviting. Never saying too much. To tell all is to destroy mystery and end the invitation.