The Mystery of Wilderness

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend Evolving Faith in Denver, CO. I was nervous going in for a couple reasons.

First of all, I felt like a fraud. In the weeks leading up to the conference my faith had taken a sharp left turn somewhere between agnostic and atheist. I wasn’t sure what I believed. I was afraid I was too angry to believe anything at all. But from the moment Sarah and Jeff took the stage and started to speak about grief, and anger, and the unknown; I knew I was in a safe place.

Second of all I was going by myself. There were a couple online friends I’d be meeting in person for the first time, but I was traveling, staying and attending alone. Normally this would make me feel uncomfortable and anxious the entire time, but I was surprised when I didn’t feel that way.

Instead I was overwhelmed to be in a room full of people of varying degrees of faith, fully affirming of all humans, and there to tell me its ok to bring my whole self exactly where I am in that moment.

And where I am, where I’ve been, for the last 2 years, is the wilderness. The wilderness of deconstruction. And while this may feel isolating when I’m at home in my small conservative town, in that arena in Denver for those two days; I belonged. I was right where I needed to be with exactly who I needed to be with.

There is so much to process after my experience, there’s no way it can be encompassed in one blog post. But there was one overarching theme that has had me thinking since I touched down in California again.

God as Mystery.

Growing up in a faith heavily reliant on doctrine that everyone must ascribe to, Mystery was something only found in the fiction books I checked out at the library. After all, we had the bible to tell us exactly who god is, where’s the mystery in that? (that was sarcasm)

But as the two days progressed, speaker after speaker, author after author got up and spoke about Mystery. That not having clarity is what gives us the ability to trust (thank you Pete Enns). That walking away from the systems that have harmed us means we don’t have to take all of everything anymore (thank you Kathy Escobar). We can reject what is harmful and toxic, and embrace the Mystery of a god who is not confined to a bible translation, and most important a god who is not centered in whiteness.

Sweet Relief

Yesterday I was listening to The Liturgists podcast, and the topic was Change. And there was that word again; mystery. Embracing that change is part of life and essential to all new things, all new life. And in that same thread, so is embracing mystery just as important.

If you know anything about the enneagram, when I tell you I’m a 6, you can probably gather how much growing and stretching I’m having to do to in order to embrace Mystery. But instead of stressing me out, I’m relieved. What a relief that I don’t have to be so sure of what I believe.

That’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and maybe it can be for you too.

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