We only understand a little. We’ll never understand a lot.

In August of 1967 (a time of great turbulence in  North America and around the world) Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, author, and peace activist, learned through a letter that Pope Paul VI brought up his name as someone to be asked to write, “…a message of contemplatives to the world.” Merton’s friend, Dom Francis Decroix, wrote the letter to Merton telling him of this honor bestowed upon him by the Pope to which Merton replied… “Can I tell you that I have found answers to the questions that torment the man of our time? I do not know if I have found answers. When I first became a monk, yes, I was more sure of “answers.” But as I grow old in the monastic life and advance further into solitude, I become aware that I have only begun to seek the questions.”

The Father wants to bring us to the place where we are more comfortable with the questions than we are with the answers. Perhaps today you are struggling with certain questions: Why has my church remained so small? Why isn’t God blessing us like He is that other church down the road? Why is this so hard? God…what do you want me to do?

Can you find the grace of God to rest in your questions, your unanswered questions? Jeremy Driscoll in his book A Monks Alphabet said, “I only understand a little. I will never understand a lot.” There is a lot about pastoring that I just don’t understand. Not the mechanics of it, i.e. how to preach and plan and care for people. That’s relatively easy. What can leave one perplexed is why does it have to be so hard to grow a healthy, happy church?

Do you have questions? The place of unanswered questions is also a place of humble communion with God. Ask God, not so much for answers, but for the ability to find Him in the midst of the questions. “There is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.”  (Journal entry, July 4, 1952, Merton)

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