Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, Sweet Mysteries of Life

There are some things I just don’t want to know.

I like surprises and a little mystery in life. Inevitably, around the end of November each year, people start giving me hints about birthday and Christmas gifts. “Got your birthday gift today…it’s something you’d never expect!” Don’t tell me! Don’t hint about its size, shape, color, or the feeling I’ll get when I open it! Don’t even tell me I’ll "absolutely love it." First of all, I hope you wouldn’t get me a gift I’d absolutely hate! But such comments only get my thoughts going…Did I mention something in particular I wanted? Did his tone of voice imply it is an object or an event? What did that raised eyebrow mean? When the gift is revealed, the experience of surprise is so diminished for me even if I’ve only considered for a second that it might be the thing it turns out to be. Don’t even tell me you got me a gift! I don’t want to know until I know! And then I really want to know!

There are people who like to know how things work. They are the ones who took a toaster apart at the age of five to see why bread goes in cold and white and comes out warm and brown. My husband is one of those people, and I love that about him. But it’s not a trait I have—nor do I want it. For me, ignorance is sometimes bliss, sometimes wonder, sometimes goose bumps, sometimes tears welling up in my eyes…and I don’t want it explained. I just want to enjoy it.

It stormed in Wheaton yesterday. You could sense it coming by the look of the sky, the ominous air pressure, the damp smell of the wind…and the green. Have you ever noticed that right before and after a storm the trees and grass look vibrantly green? Green is my favorite color, so I really love when this happens. It’s like that moment when Dorothy steps from the black-and-white tornado-wrecked house into Technicolor Oz. It’s electric, making the little hairs on my arms stand up. It makes me feel exalted and humbled at the same time. It actually gives me a deep sense of joy.

I mentioned this to someone once. Big mistake. “Well, you know there’s a reason for that…” I wanted to put my hands over my ears and yell “La-la-la-la!” so I couldn’t hear the scientific explanation, but I didn’t want to appear rude in the face of his obvious desire to be helpful and informative. So I forced myself to only look like I was listening…something about ionized particles…blah, blah, blah. I narrowly escaped the mystery being blown forever.

Before I leave this realm, I want to see the Northern Lights. Please do not send me a blog comment or an email explaining why these scarves of color and light silently and gently roll over the sky. I don’t want to know. Let me just enjoy it!


  1. Ha Ha! Welcome to my world...I am married to Joe. I was trying to make a joke one day..the joke "ya know how geese fly in a "V"..well why is it longer one one side?" I was about to tell him the punch line, which was, "Because there are more geese on one said" but he proceeded to tell me that there was a scientific explanation for this and what it was. OH BROTHER!

  2. I got your scientific explanation.

  3. I understand your heart on this Kate - especially as concerns the wonders of nature. We don't want any "scientific explanations" because we'd rather revel in the mystery of our God. When someone tries to explain away God, I simply remind myself that..."in the beginning." Ever mystery has a beginning and ultimately, it is God.

  4. I dunno, Kate, "knowing" a scientific reason doesn't always ruin it for me. Not that I would know or remember the science if it was explained to me...but in the moment, as someone is describing the science...I am still amazed at God's creativity, to put together the multiple details that seem so "heady", to make something soooo amazing, that it would bless my heart and enrich my soul in such a deep way.

    It's not like I have to know, but it doesn't ruin it for me. Maybe it makes me appreciate it in a deeper way. But I guess the truth is that God is so amazing no matter how we want to worship Him. Thank you for the reminder today!

  5. David Barrow says, My favorite color is green as well. Why? becauase it ain't blue!

  6. I agree, Mom. I love the green of the trees too. That's why it tortured me for you to keep saying, "You're gunna love your birthday gift!" ALL APRIL until you finally took me on the thirtieth. I loved it, of course, but I expected it. lol

  7. I think this is kind of why I have mixed feeling about someone asking me why I love Tony so much. Sure, I know a million lovable things about him...but I enjoy resting in the experience of the loving without need for explanation. I think this is why the theology of the early Church appeals so much to me. They were comfortable with the mystery of God, salvation, Eucharist, etc. and did not need a linear, logical explanation for their minds of how it all worked. They just knew He is...He loves...He forgives. Then set to work living the practice of it and pursuing the experience of it over the understanding of it. They only set for explanations at the Ecumenical Councils when pressed by heresy. Now, that said, can anyone tell me why science has figured out how to enable me to see a utube video of a dog chasing its tail from half way across the world but still has not given me calorie free french fries? Hmmmm? Clearly we are squandering our national resources!

  8. So. The Prell shampoo is green and the suds are white. And you're not the least bit curious how that could be? Color me perplexed!