SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE – Embrace Ambiguity and Paradox.
The winter holiday season presents many opportunities for meandering in mystery, intentionally inhabiting liminal space, wandering in wonder, and exploring ambiguities. This is my challenge to you this December – Embrace ambiguity and paradox.
Virgins can’t give birth, the Roman empire never conducted a census in first century Palestine, reindeer can’t fly, and decking the halls, lights in evergreen trees, and yule logs come from pre-Christian European traditions. And yet – nonbelievers as well as believers carol, feast, enjoy time with family and friends, put up lights and trees, and like Scrooge’s nephew Fred treat the Christmas season “as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” There’s a lot of ambiguity at Christmas for lots of people and yet, there’s a part of us that yearns for peace on earth and goodwill among people.
One day’s worth of oil cannot magically burn for eight days, but Hanukkah remains a celebration of identity, struggle against tyrants and dictators, and the importance of religious freedom.
Beyond the religious holidays of this season there’s plenty of ambiguity and paradox. Superposition and quantum entanglement provide even the best minds in physics with mysteries we can’t yet solve – the grand unification theory still eludes us. Even at the level of simple folk wisdom there’s plenty of room for pondering the paradoxical because the unexamined life is not worth living while at the same ignorance is bliss.
Einstein wrote “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder, and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.
This December, set aside some time on a regular basis (daily, weekly) to sit in the mystery, ponder the big questions, lay down the skepticism, and be okay with not knowing the answers to big questions. As always, I’d love to know how you did with this challenge. Text me or call me at 508-344-3668 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.