Monday, 2 June 2008

Questions are like Doors

A few of my friends are asking some pretty big questions right now. I am too and I remember the fear that can accompany those questions. A couple of years ago I read a great article in Thirdway magazine by Richard Rohr on 'questions' and I guess that it must have been bumbling round my head recently as I wrote this last week to get my thoughts out and make use of them. I'll enclose a link to an abridged version of R Rohr's article below because its great.

Questions are like doors

Answers are like walls – you need them but not too many. Questions are like doors.

Questions allow us to explore, to journey and to come back home with a story. And when we return, like from a trip to India, we find that we have changed and ‘home’ has changed

This is better than just building walls because, although they offer a deal of security, they also tend to isolate us and bind us to a specific time and place. In time you will forget about a wall and not even notice it in the everydayness of living. Doors, like in a wending Medina street, will always intrigue and invite and when the time is right you will step through from today into what tomorrow could be. Doors/Questions allow us to experience the wardrobe of Narnia.

Jesus asked lots of questions, about 307. In other words he opened lots of doors for people. Interestingly he answered very few, just 3 of the 187 he was himself asked, usually just rephrasing the question back to the questioner.

So it is not a massive leap to conclude that Questions are not just ok but good, even necessary in our journey of spiritual formation. We also see a pattern for why, when people question God, they often get a question back (e.g. Job ‘did you do this, can you even grasp that’, Paul’s question in Romans who’s answer is ‘who are you the pot to question the potter’

If you determine to create a door not a wall and if you dare step through that door and encounter God in honesty then you may not get an answer but you will be invited to commune with God, to travel with him, to bare his silence and discern a still small voice. Most importantly you will come back with a story of your journey and like any journey experience it is something you will then carry with you, it is something that will change you and the way you see the world, the other and your travelling companion God himself (often in unanticipated ways). This story that you now carry can also be reflected upon later, interpreted by hindsight and shared with others. It has the power to be transformative both now and it the future.

There is another genius to creating more doors than walls. Doors can be reused. It is amazing that a journey taken in one's teens can be retraced in adult life only to be a surprisingly different experience. New features of a landscape zoom into focus, subtleties of colour, complexities and tensions of interdependence are more keenly appreciated, simple joy or stillness and comfort are more readily felt. This is because, as we step through a door, we take our self with us and this dynamic discerning self allows us a myriad of experiences. So if you have a question, a door, you can go again through the same space and amazingly return with a new and different story that makes sense of life afresh.

It seems that in the walk of faith God calls us to walk through his doors not permanently brick them up. He calls us to risk living and growing, not to hole up and just get ready to die. He calls us to cry out, to seek, to seek him and his image, truth and grace in the world and to actively discover and participate in these things. To return again and again and see what new thing he has to reveal, to show, what new or ancient path he would have us walk or rediscover.

R Rohr Article - Discovering the Right Questions verses Having the Right Answers -
(pic is from my 2006 trip to Morocco)

1 comment:

mark said...

Thanks, Schof, I enjoyed this. I think the image of doors v. walls is a really good one. I also liked the phrase in the orginal article : 'Most people would actually prefer “satisfying untruth” to “unsatisfying truth.”' I don't know whether this is true. I know I prefer unsatisfying truth, but I'm aware of being a little odd in that sense! But, I guess that's why I agree with you - because temprementally I like journeys, the experience of the new, change. I like doors. I am fully aware that there are loads of people who hate doors and so block them up at every opportunity. To them, your blog sounds threatening. My question is: do I ask questions to people who find questions threatening? Should I listen more attentively to those who say I am abandoning the certainties of the faith? This connects to your next blog : can there ever be meaningful communication between those who don't want simply answers and those who wish to offer them?