Living in the tension of questions

Every day we ask questions. We sit in a lecture, we ask questions about the topic. We watch sports and wonder how they could do that. We work jobs, and wonder what we are supposed to do, or, why we work there, or, how could I do what I want without sacrificing too much. We watch the news, and, question political decisions, or how these tragedies could happen.

We live in questions.

Questions often derive from something that is brewing inside of us. When questions arise, what is happening is that a desire is being brewed within us. We are desiring for someone to take us deeper into their answers, we are desiring community. We are desiring for change, because something wrong has happened or we recognize that this just isn’t working for us anymore. We are desiring clarity, because the traditions and communities around us are conflicting and ambiguous.

One of the great teachers of our era is a man named Parker Palmer. Palmer says that one of the great rules for inner soul work, is to begin by asking honest and open-ended questions. Questions, that don’t already have answers. This is so very hard for us because so many of us want to create people in our images. Or, we want to direct them in the path that we think they should go. But, in doing this, we allow others souls to be witnessed, to be recognized, and, hopefully, cared for. I think this is the way to love. We are called to love in service, but, one of our fundamental human needs is to be known and to know others, intimately. We cannot do this if we are not asking questions that invite deeper responses. And, the same rules apply for ourselves. We cannot have a deeper experience of ourselves if we are not asking these types of questions. We cannot find healing for those deep seeded wounds that we hide from. We must remain present with our own dark side, to ask questions of reconciliation, hope and healing. The deeper the questions we ask, the deeper and more life-giving answers will we obtain.

The questions that are of the most utter important significance have a way of really dragging out. When our soul longs for something, pat answers do not satisfy our souls. In fact, that often irritate them. When we hold to Jesus words of, Seek, Knock and Ask, and these things will be given to you, we slowly come realize that even though the answers don’t come for a long time, the answer becomes a part of us. When we are asking questions of Truth, Justice, Peace, Love, we are caught in the tension of the reality of the question. However, when we are seeking, asking, knocking questions of Truth, Justice, Peace, Love, we slowly become more True, Just, Peace and Loving. Spiritual transformation cannot be seen in meaningful change from day-to-day, however, analyzed over weeks, months, years, we see great changes to we are. It’s in the questions that we seek, ask, knock, where we find the greatest transformation, and, become the proof of our answers.

We as Christians are called to formulate the questions of our heart, mind and souls, and, wrestle with the God who is present in all of those things. In doing so we participate in the reconciliation of ourselves, we find ourselves in him, and, bring this reality to the world. Never stop questioning.

Never accept and be content with unanalyzed assumptions, assumptions about the work, about the people, about the church or Christianity. Never be afraid to ask questions about the work we have inherited or the work we are doing. There is no question that should not be asked or that is outlawed. The day we are completely satisfied with what we have been doing; the day we have found the perfect, unchangeable system of work, the perfect answer, never in need of being corrected again, on that day we will know that we are wrong, that we have made the greatest mistake of all.

– Vincent J. Donovan


One thought on “Living in the tension of questions

  1. Corinne says:

    …I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke

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