Sunday, April 5, 2009

Answers or questions . . . ?

Why is it that questions are so much more powerful than answers?
This thought came to mind when I saw the Easter poster outside St. Mark's. Have you seen it? In great, bold lettering it states:
I'm sure that's perfectly true. But what I was being offered was a statement, a reassurance, a conclusion . . . where did I come into this picture?
Just see the difference if you add a couple of question-marks:
Immediately the observer is involved.

Why, I wonder, do human beings have this obsession for answers? Answers, or so it seems to me, are full stops. They close us down. Whereas answers are cul-de-sacs, questions lead us to the open road and new horizons. Questions stretch the mind and spirit. Questions invite greater, more profound, more liberating questions.
Children ask questions. That’s how they grow.

If we could answer the question about God, if we could describe God, we would not be here. Any God capable of being held within the grammar and syntax of a sentence cannot, by definition, be God. Any God that causes us to cease wondering, and marvelling, and questioning, and doubting, and straining at the restrictive limitations of our mind's capacity (for God can never be held within the mind) is surely not God. Any God that can be pulled down from the skies and labelled and courted and bargained with . . . is not God. Any God that demands politeness, and Sunday best, and a sanitised version of events can hardly be God.

God catches you when you're not looking . . . speaks to you when you're not expecting it . . . carries you when you've given up hope . . . shines from the sunset . . . blazes out from great music . . . shouts at you when you're about to do something stupid . . . holds you within the arms of a tree . . . is reflected in the faces of those you love . . . looks back at you from the mirror. And, finally, when you're ready, absorbs you so that the petty 'you' no longer exists.

And love? Who can possibly describe love? We recognise it the moment we see it . . . there's no denying when it's absent . . . and there’s nothing we can do to artificially create it. We can rejoice in it, be thankful for it, marvel at it . . . . the one thing we can’t do is to describe it.

Yet we know what love can do. Love holds our fragile world together. Love is the component of unity. Without love flowing through its veins, our physical creation would turn to dust. It is love that holds the shape of the flower before it withers away. Love that, as water, refreshes, revitalises and renews creation. Love that, despite its apparent fragility, is the strongest power that exists. Love is not the stuff that sells the magazines on the top shelves of the supermarket, nor the ingredient that demands bigger and better gifts and trades on gratification and selfishness. To give it away is to increase its abundance, to experience it is to be empowered as by nothing else, to trust in it is to acknowledge divinity.

Do you know what I'd like to put on that notice-board outside St. Mark's? The incredible photo that you showed to me last week. The picture of a sunset at the North Pole . . . do you remember . . . ?

There are no answers in that picture, just questions . . . wonderful, wonderful questions. And, who knows, it might even prompt us to ask that vital question of our age, a question that is very relevant to Easter:
'How do we, between us, nurture and protect our endangered planet?'.