The possibility is all the time.
Even at unlikely times and through unlikely places.
Nothing is beneath the dignity of becoming an entrance.
AND MOSES LOOKED AND BEHOLD THE BUSH WAS ON FIRE BUT THE BUSH WAS NOT CONSUMED
How long must someone look at a burning bush to know whether or not it is being consumed? Longer than most people look at anything. More than just to see it. Or to use it. Long enough to know if it will be for them an entrance. Such a man was Moses. And likewise anyone who is able to gaze on a place long enough without being distracted.
You do not need to go anywhere to witness Mystery. You do not have to become anyone other than yourself to find entrances. You are already there. You are already everything that you need to be. Entrances are everywhere and all the time.
Adapted from HONEY FROM THE ROCK, Rabbi L. Kushner
Jewish Lights Pub.1990
We have all encountered far more Mystery than we have noticed, more Mystery than we have allowed to nurture us, inspire us and transform us…. More Mystery than we have allowed to strengthen us. In the familiar setting of scientific expertise and cognitive explanation it is easy to trade mystery for mastery and allow “I don’t know” to become a statement of inadequacy and even shame. In such settings Mystery may even be considered unreal.
As a professional I was trained to view the unknown as a sort of emergency, like a hemorrhage and to respond with immediate action. But Mystery does not require action, Mystery requires our attention. It requires us to listen, to talk with one another, to wonder.
I first came to Hospice in 1981. At that time it was common for Hospice teams to set aside time each week for telling our stories, for wondering together about the things we could not explain and sharing a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to witness them. But that was 35 years ago. Over time the commitment to wonder together about the deep meaning of our work has gradually been replaced by more mundane concerns. We still meet weekly but now we discuss cost containment and compliance with Medicare regulations.
But what if sharing experiences of the Mystery in our work is a source of personal strength and a protection against compassion fatigue?
What if people who wonder together do not burn out?
What if the pursuit of knowledge and competence that dominates our culture has impoverished our lives?
In the presence of Mystery we grow not only in knowledge but also in wisdom. In my experience the questions I have found along the way and carry with me have enriched my life far more than any answers. Even the most profound answers have often turned out to be provisional, a temporary stopping place in an ongoing and infinitely mysterious journey
Stories are the ancient container for meaning. Recently educators have become aware that storytelling allows the deepening of personal meaning, calling and professional satisfaction and is a potent antidote to spiritual and emotional exhaustion. This upcoming workshop will be an opportunity to share our stories again, to wonder together at the things that are beyond explanation, to draw inspiration from them and from each other and to remember that witnessing and experiencing things that cannot be measured may be a doorway into what is most real and most enduring.
Looking forward to seeing you at the workshop. Still some places left!
RACHEL NAOMI REMEN MD