I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
Douglas Adams The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time
I'm steadfastly sympathetic toward Thomas. I mean, knowing Peter & friends, would you believe them? Thomas chose not to believe blindly, but to understand, making the leap from why-should-I-believe-you-guys to the Christological proclamation: "My Lord and My God!"
Peter Abelard said, "By doubting we come to inquiry, by inquiry we come to truth." Questions form the scaffolding from which my own faith is built. As I explored the foundational and deep caverns undergirding this way of life and thought, I tied string to the outside so that, if I got lost, I could find my way out. Without the years of doubt and caution and exhausting care, I would not be crafting these meditations for you now.
This week's prompts offer Thomas Troeger's gorgeous poem about Thomas (meditation one), Rilke's famous advice on living the questions (meditation two) and Solomon Ibn Gabirol exulting the senses and expressing the urgency to proclaim the wonder and awe of the Holy One. I begin and end with Douglas Adams.
With good wishes from our Abbey of Holy Doubt, -Suzanne
O happy fault of Thomas who did not believe, so that our belief may be founded upon his doubts, Which called forth this new apparition of Jesus!
Meditation One (introit) and thus the risen Christ receive
These things did Thomas count as real: the warmth of blood, the chill of steel, the grain of wood, the heft of stone, the last frail twitch of flesh and bone.
The vision of his skeptic mind was keen enough to make him blind to any unexpected act too large for his small world of fact.
His reasoned certainties denied that one could live when one had died, until his fingers read like Braille the markings of the spear and nail.
May we, O God, by grace believe And thus the risen Christ receive, whose raw, imprinted palms reach out - and beckoned Thomas from his doubt.
-Thomas Troeger copyright 1994 Oxford University Press
My soul finds its place in the Name, and my soul finds its ease in the embrace of the Name. I struggled with shapes and with numbers, and I carved with blade and brain to make a place, but I could not find a shelter for my soul. Blessed is the Name which is the safety of the soul, the spine and the shield of the innermost man, and the health of the innermost breath. I search the words that attend your mercy. You lift me out of destruction, and you win me my soul. You gather it out of the unreal by the power of your name. Blessed is the Name that unifies demand, and changes the seeking into praise. Out of the panic, out of the useless plan, I awaken to your name, and solitude to solitude all your creatures speak, and through the inaccessible intention all things fall gracefully. Blessed in the shelter of my soul, blessed is the form of mercy, blessed is the Name.
-Leonard Cohen Book of Mercy, # 47
We are not to know why this and that masters us; real life makes no reply, only that it enraptures us makes us familiar with it
-Rainer Maria Rilke May, 1924
The Incredulity of Thomas, Duccio, 1308-11
Meditation Two (insight) living the questions
… be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Resolve to be always beginning - to be a beginner!
-Rainer Maria Rilke Rilke's Letters on Love
Meditation Three (integration) I tell … one tiny part
Who can know the secret of Thine accomplishments, when Thou madest for the body the means for Thy work? Thou gavest him eyes to see Thy signs, Ears, to hear Thy wonders, Mind, to grasp some part of Thy mystery, Mouth, to tell Thy praise, Tongue, to relate Thy mighty deeds to every comer, As I do today, I Thy servant, the son of Thy handmaid, I tell, according to the shortness of my tongue, one tiny part of Thy greatness.
-Solomon Ibn Gabirol c.1021-c.1058 The Kingly Crown (Keter Malkhut)
The Last Word
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our persective tends to be.
-Douglas Adams The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time