“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~Rainer Marie Rilke
My husband is home sick this week, and every few hours I pop in and out of our bedroom where he cocoons himself in white linens, to check on him from a safe distance. He wants me to bring him a hot drink or rub his back or squeeze the ache right out of his legs. I try to do these things while holding my breath, but it’s impossible. Instead, I settle for a germaphobe’s distraction by bringing reading material with me so my mind stays busy, while my hands momentarily soothe the flu away.
When he saw me carrying the spiral bound notebook which serves as my journal, he asked me to read him a little. First of all, no. I retreat to my journal when my husband can no longer stand to listen to my crazy. It’s every frustrating conversation we’ve ever had on an endless cycle of repeat. But, his illness coincided with the few days I set aside to read through it. So, I read him a few sentences here and there. Fragments, really. His eyes glazed over a bit, and it wasn’t from the fever. I gave him fair warning.
I wanted to read through it to ignite my memory, to remind myself of the gifts wrapped up in the last year. I wanted to read it like a novel, following my own character arc through the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is an invitation to adventure and to change. I wanted to read it and say, Look how far I’ve come, but my interior life didn’t read like a compelling story. It read like the same question asked in a hundred different ways without a final scene to wrap it all up.
I opened the year with a question, and I closed it without a concrete answer. I asked the same question page after page after page, and I waited with increasing frustration and desperation for a hand to appear from the sky and write the answer on the wall. After a year’s distance from my early writings, I realize I didn’t need God’s hand to physically pen the answer. Oh, that’s what I wanted, but God knew better. He knew I needed to wrestle with it.
God knew I’d always be suspicious of an easy answer. I needed to wrap myself around the questions and live into them. Live into the tension. Live into the unknown. Live into everything the year held for me, with my questions serving as a guide and oft-unwanted companion. I had to live the question, day in and day out, before I could ever consider the weight of living into the answer.
Are you looking for answers right now? How do you live into the questions when the answers come slowly?